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Edmonton mom concerned about services available for daughter with health conditions
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, May 8, 2013 4:00PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 8, 2013 6:17PM MDT
An Edmonton mother is raising concerns about what services will be available for her daughter - who lives with a number of mental illnesses and health conditions – once she becomes an adult.
Currently, Parker Schurek-Bell is a 16-year-old teenager living with Tourette Syndrome and mental illnesses such as obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Parker’s mother Kelly says it took years to figure out what was wrong with her daughter, who was once suspended from Kindergarten.
“I had one doctor go, after 10 weeks, ‘well, she’s a hard nut to figure,’ and I’m like, ‘that’s your diagnosis?’” Kelly said. “Okay, next doctor.”
After seeing countless doctors, a school nurse was the one to notice Parker had Tourette’s when she was in Grade 5.
“Things kind of went uphill from that,” Kelly said.
Since that time Kelly has worked hard to ensure Parker gets the help she needs but says it’s been a struggle finding the right programs.
Kelly is worried about what will happen once her daughter becomes an adult – and no longer meets criteria for children’s programs.
“I really don’t think there’s a whole lot out there for adults,” Kelly said.
“You really have to have your programs in place by the time your 18.”
Kelly says the recent story of the Telford family from Ottawa, who left their adult autistic son at a government building, was heart breaking, but she understands where the family is coming from.
“I totally get it,” Kelly said.
“What do you do? There was one point where I walked into her doctor’s office when she was on all those meds and she was hospitalized and I was like, ‘I can’t do it, it is not safe.’”
Gap between child and adult services
Advocates say the Telford case is not unique – and many families, like the Schurek-Bells as well, are overwhelmed when dealing with children or adult children with disabilities.
Cheryl Chichak with Alberta Human Services says the department does hear from concerned parents about what they can do with their children with disabilities once they turn 18 – and admits there are gaps.
“There is a gap, a gap between services for children and services for adults and that’s something we’re really working on fixing right now,” Chichak said.
“As opposed to here is this program, here is that program… it’s about what are your needs, what are your goals, what can we do to help you,” Chichak said.
To help fill those gaps, Chichak says the province is rolling out a new Alberta-wide program called the ‘Transition Planning Project,’ where a family can meet with a variety of professionals for help specifically geared at transitioning from youth supports to adult supports.
“It’s helping families navigate that transition. We start when the youth is about 15, 16-years-old, and we bring everyone to the table,” Chichak said.
“You go from talking about school supports to talking about employment preparation and independent living so we help them navigate that.”
Meanwhile, Parker says she understands her mother’s concerns and is trying her best to ease them.
“I know I need to get more independent and that I can’t always rely on my mom to fight the battles,” Parker said.
“I talk to my teachers and I set up a plan saying where I probably won’t need this but if I do, can I go and take a break, can I just draw for a little bit to calm down or can I go take a quick walk.”
Parker’s goal is to attend post-secondary and one day become a psychologist.
Kelly is hopeful her daughter will find a place in the community, and find the help she needs, once she becomes an adult.
“It’s so scary,” Kelly said. “I’ve begged Parker’s doctor, how long can you keep us?”
With files from Carmen Leibel