Family in need
Rural family struggles with two children with disabilities
A helping hand is hard to come by for Kathy and Mike Thompson.
The couple lives in rural Moffat County with their two developmentally disabled adult children, Justin, 22, and Krissy, 26.
Justin has autism, and Krissy has developmental disabilities along with a seizure disorder.
Justin and Krissy need constant care, so Kathy Thompson works weekends and a few nights a week at a recreation center in Rangely. Mike Thompson works weekdays at Dinosaur National Monument.
Having to constantly watch Justin and Krissy, and making the 70-mile drive to Craig and Vernal, Utah, to shop or to go to doctor’s appointments is an ongoing challenge for the family.
Justin is 6 feet 1 inch tall, 280 pounds and prone to outbursts during the long-drive to Craig or Vernal, Kathy Thompson said.
“Our biggest problem is the distance,” Thompson said. “His attention span is very short.”
Both children are on the waiting list for help from Horizons Specialized Services, but the nonprofit isn’t sure when it will be able to provide services to the Thompsons.
Thompson drives Krissy to Maybell every Tuesday, where she gets picked up by the Moffat County senior citizen van and taken to Craig to participate in some of Horizons’ day programs for adults.
Justin doesn’t make the trip to Craig because he doesn’t do well with large groups, Thompson said.
“I wish he could,” she said.
Thompson said she hopes Horizons someday will be able to help the family with services a few afternoons a week.
Having a few afternoons a week free would allow Thompson to run errands and get things done around the house.
Although the family has immediate needs, they say they are even more concerned about what will happen to Justin and Krissy in the future, when she and Mike can’t take care of them.
“He is going to need some care eventually,” Thompson said of her son.
With the amount of care Justin needs and the fact that he can function somewhat independently, he would be a good candidate for one of the organization’s group homes, said Kay Borvansky, Horizons Resource Development coordinator.
Horizons officials would like to help the family immediately, Borvansky said. But it can’t afford to provide the services the family needs.
“We cannot promise when we’ll be able to serve them,” Borvansky said.
There are 15 people on Horizons’ waiting list in Moffat County.
The organization provides day care, job training and help with medical bills for people with developmental disabilities and their families in Northwest Colorado.
Horizons asked Moffat County voters in November for a mill levy to help people on the waiting list, but voters rejected the measure 54 percent to 46 percent.
If voters had approved the mill levy, Horizons’ operating budget would have increased by about $350,000 in Moffat County.
Even though voters said no to Horizons, families such as the Thompsons are still in dire need, Borvansky said.
“The need is still there,” she said.
Horizons is kicking off a direct-mail fundraising campaign this week asking residents to contribute to the organization.
In year’s past, the “Little Points of Light” campaign only asked for help with the organization’s programs for young children.
But this year, the organization is asking for help with adult clients.
The organization hopes people who voted to approve the mill levy will chip in this year, Borvansky said.
“This is the season of giving,” she said.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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