Family provides a new option for individuals with intellectual disabilities
After searching for better solutions for their son’s next step in life, Dyon Crawford and Ingrid Crawford created their own.
Julian’s House is named after the Crawfords’ son Julian Crawford, who has an intellectual and developmental disability. The group home is a day rehabilitation center and activity center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Crawfords opened Julian’s House in June after finding other day rehabilitation and group home options for Julian Crawford were lacking services, or had long waiting lists.
“He was in a group home at another location and they weren’t doing a bad job, but we thought they could have been better,” Ingrid Crawford said. “He stayed there for approximately two years, and it always bothered me when we would go and get him. I couldn’t figure out what we could do.”
Ingrid Crawford and Dyon Crawford said four-hour weekend trips to and from the group home, combined with an improper diet for adults that caused Julian Crawford to lose weight, caused them to look for new facilities. Disappointed with long waiting lists — some years-long — and the programming at other centers, Ingrid Crawford said they decided to start their own group home.
“It just dawned on us to take control of the level of care he receives,” she said. “We bought a house for him and created a group home. We figured there must be parents like us that were looking for a place for their loved ones. All we wanted to do was give Julian the same things as other kids.”
Part of the Crawfords’ vision for Julian’s House was giving their son and other special needs individuals more than a place to stay for the day, Dyon Crawford said. After initially wanting Julian’s House to be a group home, the Crawfords decided Julian’s House would also be a day rehabilitation and activity center.
“They have to do something during the day,” Ingrid Crawford said. “We didn’t want them to stay in the house all day long, so that’s kind of how it segued into the dayhab. We just wanted to give [Julian] everything any other child would have.”
Julian’s House offers different activities for individuals based on their special needs need, Ingrid Crawford said. The center has several activities including creating crafts, playing in the media room, learning how to cook, exercising outside and more. Dyon Crawford said Julian’s House wanted to make it clear that it is not a school, but rather a location for special needs individuals to learn life skills.
Ingrid Crawford said Julian’s House plans to give each client the attention they deserve, never growing too large or forcing each client to participate in every activity.
“We’re small and we’re able to do that,” she said. “We feel like this is a highly functional house geared more toward individual attention because it’s small enough to do that. And again, even with our son, it’s still a house, so they still mimic what they’re learning at home as far as the life skills.”
Members of Julian’s House will take lessons with instructors and cycle through different activities throughout the day. Currently, Julian’s House can hold 40 clients at a time inside of the home, with additional room for 15 to 20 people to exercise and play in the activity center outside, as well as a backyard where sports equipment can be set up. Clients at Julian’s House are also taken on trips to shop, watch movies and interact with the community.
“It’s not like we’re here all day; we do like taking them out into the community,” Dyon Crawford said. “They’re still a part of this community.”
Julian’s House also accepts requests for clients to learn certain skills, such as cooking, if their guardian asks. Programming is based on clients and their needs, rather than making each client do the same activity.
“One of the young ladies here works part-time and her mother said she would eventually like for her to live with a roommate,” Ingrid Crawford said. “So, she wanted her to get a better grasp of money. She asked us to help her understand spending and earning money. That’s specific to her.”
Future plans for Julian’s House include participating in the Special Olympics as well as incorporating pet therapy to soothe clients. Overall, Julian’s House wants families to know there is a closer option for them, Ingrid Crawford said.
“It’s really looking at building our program based off of our clients needs,” she said. “You have to understand, there’s a lot of places like this but not in the area. … There are things out there, there are services out there, but unless people are advocating for their kids, it’s hard to get information. Sometimes people just don’t know. That’s why we’re trying to get the word out as much as possible.”