How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time of course.

I’ve heard this phrase quite a bit lately - not just directed toward me (although it's been mentioned to me more than once by some very wonderfully supportive people) but in various situations and circumstances.  It’s an interesting phrase, which is used to remind a person that no one can fix an issue (whatever your individual issue is) in one fell swoop but by solving one problem/issue at a time until you reach the end/achieve the goal. 

I will admit that I have felt a little stressed recently as I work with NDL and the parents and families of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  If I think about it too long, I can get overwhelmed by the enormity of what we are trying to create here - neuro inclusive co-living and co-housing communities starting in the Lehigh Valley and Bucks county.

The housing crisis for adults with I/DD is no joke and not funny at all.  Statistically, 87% of adults with I/DD live with their aging caregivers. This isn’t an issue specific to the counties I mentioned or even Pennsylvania.  This issue spans the entire United States. The housing crisis adults with I/DD and their families face is alarming enough, but then add to that the fact that this population is also mostly unemployed.    

From what we’ve all seen through Covid the past 15 months, nothing makes a person more anxious than realizing they are part of a crisis.  I’m part of this housing crisis - my son is 25 years old and has autism. Hopefully, he will live a very long life. I hope to be around for a lot of Matt’s life, but not for all of it.  All of the families with adult children with I/DD are part of this housing crisis, as are the adults themselves.  It is my sincere hope that children with I/DD and their families do not face such a crisis. By the time their children are adults, NDL will have communities in their area ready and waiting for their children.

But there are nights like this one when I am overwhelmed at the many steps that need to be taken.  I’m frustrated at the speed at which building these communities is taking.  I’m stressed because I feel like I don’t know enough about everything and that I can’t say to my son or anyone else’s parents that NDL will have the perfect place for you to live in the next week.  

But then I breathe and remember that I can only eat this elephant a bite at a time.  I remember that there are so many other families that want to help create these communities with us and they will show up and pitch in.  And I am so very grateful that somehow the right people keep showing up with the knowledge, expertise, and willingness to teach us how to do this - a bite at a time.