Armanda and her husband are the parents of one of Sunbeam’s residents, Matthew, and their family also includes three daughters.  Matthew is deaf and on the autism spectrum.  Their family is strong and resilient.  Since Matthew’s move to a Sunbeam residence their family’s home looks different than it ever has, as it is spread between two different houses.

Armanda and young Matthew

Until recent years, Matthew lived at home with his parents and sisters.  He was accepted to attend an out of town school that was able to accommodate his auditory needs, but was not well prepared to handle the other aspects of Matthew’s situation. Armanda was often called to the school to assist or to bring Matthew home for the day.  This meant that home was unpredictable, single income, and high stress.

Armanda felt the responsibility, as mom, to both provide appropriate care for Matthew, and a  good environment for the rest of her family.  On Matthew’s difficult days however, this would often mean that the family would be separated, with Dad taking the girls out, and mom staying home to help calm and assist Matthew.  This meant that home was segregated, protected, and lonely.

After a few aggressive incidents, it became clear that the family home was no longer a safe place for Matthew and his family to live together.  Armanda discovered Sunbeam and its work in her community and recognized an opportunity to provide two safe homes for her children – one managed and staffed by professionals who are able to provide proper care and a great lifestyle for Matthew, and one where mom and dad could live safely with their daughters and provide a fair amount of attention to each of their three children without risking anyone’s wellbeing.  This meant home became more peaceful, predictable, and hopeful.

Armanda and her family are learning to live well within this new definition of what home is for their family.  Armanda is learning how to maintain her identify as “mom” to Matthew while watching the fantastic staff at Sunbeam fulfill the tasks that used to define her relationship with her son. Matthew’s sisters are learning what home is like when mom’s attention is more evenly dispersed and how to be sisters to a brother who lives in another home environment.  Dad is enjoying more time with his wife, and a new relationship with his son that looks much different than it has in the past.  Matthew is learning that home is much bigger than he has previously experienced.  He has support to live in the way that feels most comfortable and safe to him. He is able to express himself and be understood.

Dad, Matthew, Sisters, and Armanda pose for a photoHome is hard.  Home is chaos.  Home is commitment. Home is the security to change and grow.

Armanda is an awesome mother and advocate for Matthew.  Her commitment and dedication to her family’s health and wellbeing is inspiring and Sunbeam is much richer for having them as a part of our family.

This is just one of the many great stories that Sunbeam has to share.  This story was originally featured in the 2017/2018 Annual Report.