Next month, Matt will be transitioning to First Place–Phoenix as his new home. The past few months have been more like day camp in advance of this big-step, sleep-away adventure.
With the support of staff, our health and wellness coordinator and the ecosystem of family and friends, my husband Rob and I are experiencing a wide range of emotions as Matt soon becomes a full-time resident.
For several years, he has been learning how to ride the Valley Metro light rail, purchasing his ticket, monitoring his stops and disembarking at Thomas and Central, just a few blocks away from where First Place–Phoenix now stands.
Those train rides have prompted lists and more lists for his successful transition from our family home to a home of his own:
- Comfy bed and furniture in place: check
- Drawers and closet organized and labeled so he can successfully wash, dry and put away his laundry: check
- Easy-to-use appliances, including an automatic stove/oven shut-off should he forget: check
- A pantry stocked with his favorite (limited!) food choices and labeled for ease in putting away groceries: check
- Last but not least, Alexa, who fills his living space with his favorite Beatles, Beach Boys and Elton John tunes: check
Matt has been spending most days at First Place, practicing independence by proudly wearing his keycard for secure access, entering his apartment, raising the blinds, adjusting the thermostat and checking his detailed schedule—updated daily—on his ubiquitous iPad.
Matt’s days continue to be filled with work at SMILE Biscotti. His growing list of activities includes workouts in the First Place fitness room, joining the sports pool aquatics class, chilling in the Lego Lounge and learning about his new friends and neighbors.
We’re already adding new items to the list of what’s next through parent training with the First Place and SARRC teams. As parents, we’re also anticipating Matt’s first night away from home. For us, there are lots of emotions: from joy and confidence to sadness and worry—which is our job as parents, right?
We’re looking forward to the many life lessons we’ll all be learning in the days and years ahead as we continue to ensure Matt’s well-being, while he pursues his interests with old and new friends and benefits from our incredibly supportive community.