Choi will do whatever it takes for her son.
2023 marks Community Living Toronto (CLTO)’s 75th anniversary, and to celebrate we’ve asked people from across our communities to tell us what 75 Years of Belonging means to them. Along the way, we have learned that belonging looks and feels different for everybody. Today, we would like to share a story about a mother’s commitment to her son and to their community, and how they found belonging through individualized care.
This is Choi and Clarence’s story of belonging.
My name is Choi and my son’s name is Clarence. Clarence is 41 years old now, and I am 65. Our story has many ups and downs that I will share with you. What I am about to tell you might sound a little bleak at first, but I promise you it does not end that way. And that is in large part because of Community Living Toronto (CLTO).
For Choi, “belonging” is individualized support.
Clarence was born with multiple disabilities; he was not predicted to survive and somehow, he has surpassed all expectations. Clarence lives with profound deafness, a severe developmental delay, and he is autistic. When you combine these realities, you start to see how difficult the world can be. Unfortunately, many of our systems in Canada – including the education system – are not designed to make learning easy for a person like Clarence. His childhood was difficult and I tried to find the best ways to support him; I tried several schools and programs and group homes for Deaf people, but he really struggled. After nearly 15 years of specialized classes and living in a group home for Deaf people, I learned that my son was losing sleep and that he was unhappy. His mental health wasn’t where he needed it to be. So, I moved him home to live with me.
“One step at a time, his health started to get better. And CLTO was a very meaningful step in the right direction.”
When Clarence moved back home, I tried to reduce my workload so that I could support him more. This started with taking him to all kinds of specialists. I took him to endocrinologists, psychologists, and even more specialists. Eventually, he was also accepted into the Community Living Toronto Individualized Supports Program. One step at a time, his health started to get better. And CLTO was a very meaningful step in the right direction.
Now he is a happy and healthy person. I don’t even think about him losing sleep now!
Community Living Toronto (CLTO) sees everybody as their own person with unique skills and talents and needs. Many of CLTO’s programs are self-directed and individualized. For CLTO, belonging means honouring each person’s journey, and meeting them where they are at.
As I get older, I know I will no longer be able to provide the same level of care for Clarence. These days, it consumes a lot of my energy and planning. His support system is always on my mind. But, I won’t be able to do this forever.
I am an aging parent of a child with an intellectual disability, and I have some concerns about the future. My vision is beginning to deteriorate and I may eventually need eye surgery. At some point, I may also need to move into a seniors home myself. Community Living Toronto – and especially the Individualized Supports Program – are so special for me, especially as I think about how they will provide the care and support Clarence will need as I get older.
Community Living Toronto’s supports and services are person-directed and are designed to help develop natural networks within the community that encourage independence and personal achievement. We support people of all ages, and our services are organized into three main streams:
Specialized Services: Individualized clinical services that optimize quality of life for the diverse range of people we support and their families.
Community Participation Supports and Respite: Meaningful, inclusive experiences that promote neighbourhood connections and personal interests, skills, and development.
Supportive Living: A range of housing and support options that foster choice, independence, and neighbourhood connections.
“There is no comparison to Community Living Toronto.”
Over the years, I have actively volunteered and joined so many CLTO groups, so that I could learn more and help – from parent groups to support groups to the Board of Directors – the organization is just so special and important.
I am grateful for everything CLTO does to foster a sense of belonging for everybody in our community.
For 75 years, Community Living Toronto has been evolving, learning, and growing to support and include people with an intellectual disability. Together, let’s work toward 75 more Years of Belonging. Here is one way you can help today: Add your name below to show your support.
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