Monday, June 27, 2011

Woman with Down syndrome lives independently, thanks to new style of care

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Megan Reynolds is chatting with visitors, her foot resting on her knee as she puts on a sneaker, preparing for a trip to the gym.

Amie Cabral, next to her on the couch, gives Reynolds’ elbow a little nudge. “Wrong foot,” she says.

Reynolds, 22, switches feet. She resumes tying her sneaker and answering questions about her relationship with Cabral, 20 –– a Rhode Island College student who is one of her four employees.

“I usually prefer women to men,” Reynolds explains, “because women have better ways to help me put my emotions in check. My anger is an issue. …

“They help me with my daily living skills. They help me by bringing me to the doctors. They remind me to get my medication when I need to take it. They help with transportation to social events with friends.”

Reynolds, who has Down syndrome, participates in a program called self-directed care. With her mother coordinating, she uses the state money that supports her (in her case, about $35,000 a year) to hire her own assistants, rather than having an agency take care of her.

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