KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After years of waiting, the family of a special needs young adult has found a home where their son will receive the care he needs.
Sean Homer‘s family has been searching for a permanent residence for him.
After taking care of him for 20 years, Homer’s mother, Wynn Smith, and stepfather, Freddie Smith, have tried to have Homer placed at a residence for people with special needs. Both shared that the state tried to place Homer in the CHOICES Program, but due to his disabilities, that did not work out.
However last week, with assistance from the University of Tennessee Medical Center, a home has now been found for Homer.
Last October, Wynn told WATE her son needed special care. At 20, Homer has been diagnosed with Level 3 autism. He is nonverbal and has few communication skills.
Since birth, Homer has lived with his family, but at 6’4″ and 250 pounds, it is tough to manage him at home.
“I can’t take care of Sean by myself anymore. He is too hard to take care of. He is physically too hard,” Wynn said.
In early February, Homer was taken to the emergency room after becoming violent at home and hurting himself. For years, his family has tried to get him placed in a special facility.
A letter from TennCare sent in January of 2022 states Homer is eligible for residential treatment.
“He has been accepted into a company called Generations. They are a more permanent housing for Sean,” said Freddie. “They’re set up for the most severe, handicapped, medically handicapped children. 24/7. They even have a nurse that lives on the property. His mother is not physically able to take care of him anymore, and that works on her emotionally. Even having him at the hospital is tough on her.”
Freddie shared that the other state program they were working with just was not appropriate for Homer.
“They were trying to get him into a program where they could rehabilitate him and help him get a job where they could make money while staying at their house. He is not mentally capable of doing a job. He doesn’t talk. He’s not potty trained. He has violent outbursts,” said Freddie.
Freddie says as they are getting ready for Homer’s move, they will complete paperwork this week for his admission into the Generations Program.
“Right now, the opening is in Memphis. They have several facilities throughout the state. What they are going to do is move him to Memphis, but as they have an opening closer to home, they are going to move him closer to us,” said Freddie. “This is what we have been trying for six years to get him in a home that could take care of him and have him structured.”
The Generations Program is set up specifically for adults with physical, developmental or psychiatric disabilities.
Across Tennessee, there are few facilities for people with special needs like Homer, so finding a room is difficult. The Smiths said while they will miss Homer terribly, they know he will be in better hands than what they could have provided at home.