Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Filling the Gap
WILMETTE, Ill. -- Travis Tassone stood in the center of the room and crooned an Elvis tune for his teenage friends when it happened, again.
"Toenails!" he blurted. He clapped his hands to his mouth. He was trying so hard not to say that word. It's one of those expressions — like "Merry Christmas" — that he says compulsively.
"I'm sorry," he said.
Life is filled with such small struggles at Our Place, a day program in downtown Wilmette for young people with developmental disabilities. The program was started almost two years ago by parents who saw a gap in social services and filled it.
Increasingly, parents frustrated with the state's waiting lists and funding woes are forming nonprofit corporations such as Our Place to keep their children busy and closer to home. Special education services end when students reach 22, leaving few options for young adults with disabilities in Illinois.