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Ian's Story

Two summers ago our son Ian Bashaw, was in a psychiatric hospital in Fort Myers. When we visited he was so doped up with medications he barely recognized us. He drooled, wore diapers, and shuffled around the hospital corridors like a little old man.

Today Ian, 24, is in his own apartment, with people watching him around the clock, of course. However, he helps with his laundry, helps fix meals, vacuums, and helps make his bed. He hosts parties, telling people what to bring - “lots of chocolate cup cakes.’’ He also takes art lessons from his good friend Nathan Dyke. Last November Ian and Nathan put some of their paintings in an auction to raise money for the Adonis Autism Center of Southwest Florida. Ian’s paintings brought in almost $1,000! Best of all, Ian once again is the bright, alert person we knew before he was placed in a group home in Bradenton in 1998. Most group homes are fine. This one wasn’t. We took him out of the home and brought him home.

The next couple of years were hard for all of us. Finally, we discovered The Mentor Network in Fort Myers. Through the efforts of Mentor’s program manager, David Busch, who had known Ian when he was a teen-ager and still living at home, things began to ease a little. However, while the Mentor staff was great with Ian during the day, he was living in yet another group home. It’s a fine home, but we discovered Ian simply doesn’t fit into a group home setting. We are too old to have him live with us at home. Richard called CARD for help.

Ian's art work




On July 7, 2000, Winnie Gayler, of CARD, led Ian’s first Circle meeting at Mentor headquarters. Ian’s paintings covered at least two of the walls in the Mentor office. Sitting in a circle around tables in the center of the room were people involved in Ian’s life, including his parents and his friend, Nathan.

Gayler impressed upon circle members the importance of focusing on Ian, where he’s been and where we hope he’ll go. One of the dreams for Ian at an early circle meeting was that he would one day live in his own home. At the time it seemed an almost impossible dream. However, on March 2, 2001, he moved into a one-bedroom apartment of his own. Our journey with our autistic son is still rough, but there are signs of hope.

by Maureen Bashaw