For most adults, their 21st birthday is an exciting time marking another step toward independence.
However, for Deane Daprato, the son of Mark Daprato and Ijeoma Ross, turning 21 in June meant he became completely dependent on their care 24/7.
Mark Daprato lists some of their parental duties as including “Bathing, toileting him and feeding him,” before adding jovially, “Oh, and being goofy with him and having lots of fun.”
Deane Daprato has spastic quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, meaning he requires help with pretty much all his basic needs. For example, he needs to be fed through a tube.
“And he’s not in a motorized chair so if he needs to get from A to B he needs somebody to [push] him,” said Ross, who shoulders a lot of this daily responsibility as she has the more flexible work schedule of the two parents.
Growing up, Deane used to have a whole team of support around him, including speech therapists, physiotherapists, special needs educators and other social supports.
But at 21, people like Deane “age out” of this system and after they leave high school, opportunities to further their social development dry up.
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