The Good Doctor episode “Tough Titmouse,” aired on October 15, did not depict the true full range of options available for parents of children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). After a young gentleman who has fragile X syndrome lashes out, against himself and his mother, the doctors highly suggest to his mother sending him away to an institution. There were only two options for the single mother: keep her son and struggle, or let him go so she can love him.
“Giving him up will be the hardest thing you will have to do. But, maybe you need to do it because of your love for him.”
So says Dr. Melendez to the mother, outlining her limited options. This emotional scene could worriedly be used as an educational resource for those unexposed to the disability community. For that reason, it is important to note the various options parents with children with I/DD have, including developmental disabilities services at agencies like The Arc Baltimore.
For example, The Arc Baltimore’s Outreach and Family Services division offers several options. Our Information and Referral Line not only links families to disability resources, but also poverty resources, including outside support and/or our own direct assistance. Outreach provides education on how to navigate all of the service systems. We encourage you to call our Outreach team at 410-296-2272.
Also, Parent’s Day Out is a morning parents can drop their child off at four different locations around Baltimore for an opportunity to relax. Held on weekends throughout the year, be sure to check the calendar for upcoming dates: http://www.thearcbaltimore.org/events-calendar/.
In addition, the Family Living Department provides in-home support for children and adults who have service plans funded by the Developmental Disabilities Administration. An in-home support could help alleviate some of the responsibilities held by the single mother in “Tough Titmouse.”
We also offer monthly Parent Support Groups when parents can share the joys and challenges of raising a child with disabilities and offer peer support and resources. In particular, we would like to highlight Mom’s Understand, for mothers of all ages, in response to the recent episode’s depiction of the realistic struggle held by mothers of children with I/DD.
The Education Series is another resource that speaks to various topics pertinent to family life, most recently October’s Family Dynamics/Stressors seminar. These are held the last Tuesday of every month, with dinner and childcare provided. For any other information on Family Services and its resources, be sure to check out https://www.thearcbaltimore.org/programs/family-services/.
In San Jose, California, where The Good Doctor takes place, there are support services very similar to the ones outlined above, described in full on https://www.dds.ca.gov/RC/ProgramServices.cfm. While limited choices concerning children with I/DD may have been a reality of the past, it is important to promote the various options in the present so that parents are fully equipped and ready to support their children.
The Arc Baltimore is grateful to The Good Doctor for the opportunity to share these services and for its platform on a major network to portray natural support given to an individual with I/DD. Shaun, the main character, has autism and is supported by his co-workers and his neighbor in a way that is natural and not motivated out of pity. Part of The Arc’s mission is to foster these kinds of relationships through community engagement and integration. Proper representation of individuals with I/DD in the media is important, and appropriately representing the services that affect their lives is essential.
Blog post written by Development Intern Matty Brown, in consultation with Dawn Davis-Brodeur, Director of Training. Brown is a junior at Loyola University Maryland, studying Writing and Communications.