Case Studies

Suzanne was 43 when she received the surprise news that she was pregnant again. While she as glad to finally have a son, along with her 23-year-old twin daughters Jessica and Megan, Suzanne felt a sense of loss when she learned that Joel had an intellectual disability (ID). Joe’s dad Tom was proud of his daughters’ academic and athletic accomplishments but felt uneasy relating to Joel. Tom kept quiet as his wife Suzanne disclosed her anxiety about helping Joel navigate through life. Somehow envisioning Joel participating in Special Olympics in the future, rather than high school and college sports, left a hole in Suzanne and Tom’s hearts. To prepare for an inevitable future, Suzanne decided to volunteer at a local sheltered workshop and day program where she observed other children with intellectual disabilities enjoy horseback riding and work with their hands. One day Suzanne overheard parents of two 23-year-old young adults with ID discuss how their children wanted to get married and have children. This conversation made Suzanne feel very uncomfortable and she doesn’t know how to broach this subject with Tom.

  1. What resources exist for parents who have children with intellectual or developmental disabilities?
  2. How can social workers talk with Joel’s parents to assure them there is hope for Joel living a meaningful life?
  3. Where might Joel’s parents and local social workers locate policy information to help them advocate for Joel in future?
  4. How would social workers respond to the idea of young adults with ID wanting to get married and raise children?