Mathew is a well-mannered, 21-year old young man who was placed in a nursing home by his mother. He whispers to speak—for words to pass through his lips, it takes all of his energy. You must lean in to hear him because each word is calculated. Mathew has Leigh’s disease; a neurological condition that weakens his muscles. Yet, Mathew is like any other young man of his age. He loves the Georgia Bulldogs, playing video games, going to the movies, listening to country music and hanging out with friends.
In meetings with the Children’s Freedom Initiative, Mathew clearly communicated his desire to leave the nursing home but it required a Medicaid waiver to move into a home in the community. Just when Mathew was approved for his waiver he was hospitalized with Pneumonia, a common threat to residents living in congregate care. Mathew recuperated and managed to move out. He now lives with his caregiver, travels and regularly plays video games with the guys in his neighborhood.