Independent Living: Jackson Lockhart

“I want to live on my own.”  Jackson’s mother heard the words, but wasn’t sure her son understood what that meant.  After explaining to him that he would have to cook for himself, remember to take his medication, and get up on time for work, Jackson looked at her and repeated, “I want to live on my own.” Even though Ms. Lockhart knew this day would come, she had some concerns about Jackson’s request. Her son had been diagnosed with autism at an early age and his behavior impacted his communication and reasoning abilities when he got  overstimulated or needed help.  As a parent, Ms. Lockhart had some reservations about Jackson’s safety and wellbeing, but as his advocate, she knew that transitioning to supported community living was the best alternative for her son.

As youth with disabilities transition into the adult world, families begin exploring residential options.  Whether the choice is living at home, living with peers, or living alone, assistive technology offers natural supports to monitor safety and enhance independence.

SimplyHome integrates both simple and sophisticated products into a customized system to achieve the outcomes desired by individuals and their families.  During the assessment with Jackson’s mother, we learned that her priorities included:

  • Cooking safely—Jackson just needed a reminder if the stove was left on too long.
  • Medication compliance—Jackson could take his medication independently, but she had to remind him periodically when it was time for his next dose.
  • Egress—Jackson liked going to work so much so that sometimes, he would leave too early to wait for the bus.  He also had a tendency to wander outside at night.

In an effort to create some natural supports for Jackson, we designed a system that included a medication dispenser as well as our Butler sensor system.   The wireless sensors not only alert Ms. Lockhart but also provide audible cues to Jackson.  If he doesn’t respond to the cue to turn off the stove or go back inside and wait for the bus, then Ms. Lockhart is notified and can give her son a call.

With more states providing Medicaid waivers for residential assistive technology, young adults with autism have same opportunity that Jackson does: to live as independently as possible.