The Keys are Mine!
By Kevin Otley
When I lived at the Lake Owasso county institution in Minnesota, you had to ask for everything: "Can you let me out?," "Can I have a can of pop?," "Can I stay up a little bit longer?"
When I moved into a group home, I had to follow all the rules. I had to go to bed at a certain time, and when I was in bed, I had to be asleep: that was that. I lived with two other guys. We were being watched all the time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Seven years ago I got married. My wife and I moved into our own apartment. Now that I have my own place, I make the decisions. I have my own keys. I can let myself out and let myself back in.
Now I can come and go when I want. I can make my own food, and I decide whether I want to have breakfast or lunch, or when I'm ready for a snack. We can invite friends to stay over. My wife and I decide when the staff come over. They help us with some things, but we make our own decisions.
Reprinted with permission from Voiceprint, a publication of Advocating Change Together, St. Paul, Minnesota.