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Shaker Heights mom creates 'smart home' for developmentally-disabled son

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Smart home
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 12:26:10-04

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Moving out and living on your own isn’t always guaranteed for people with developmental disabilities, but one Shaker Heights woman is challenging those norms for her son Ben Hill.

Cindy Hill, with help from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, found new ways to retrofit her home and make it safe for her son with autism.

"There weren't the technologies, there weren't even computers when he was born. So it was pretty hard to envision," she said.

Technology—including appliances that shut off on their own, motion sensors and new security systems—allowed Cindy to move out with peace of mind. She now lives in an apartment just two miles away, and Ben has been living alone for three months.

"We could have never pictured it in the past," she said. "I'm letting go gradually."

In addition to these systems, Cindy organized a structure for Ben’s day so he feels more secure. This includes several visits per week from DeJohn Dixon, an 18-year-old aide from Home Watch Caregivers.

"I'm here to give Ben a life of adventure," Dixon said.

Together, they walk outside and work out at the gym.

Cindy thinks the home adjustments and visits from Dixon are helping Ben become more self-sufficient.

"He's starting to think for himself, ‘Hey, I need this.’ And it's really a kind of flourishing experience for him," she said.

After struggling to find resources for Ben over several years, Cindy started a website to help families with children who have developmental disabilities.

You can locate these resources and free assistance here.

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