NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — “I talk to my friends, I play video games, I watch YouTube,” said 23-year-old Lyle Vitare, who spends almost all his time at home.
“While I was excited and very proud that Lyle graduated, I was also mortified because I knew he would graduate into his room which he did,” said his mom Judy Thomas.
Vitare is on the autism spectrum but his IQ falls between 70 and 80, which means he doesn’t get services from the state but he also can’t find a job.
“We need to stop allowing these kids to fall through the cracks,” Thomas said. “We’re a great state. Let’s show everybody that we’re capable of taking care of these kids.”
Some communities are opening stores and coffee shops to provide training and work for those with disabilities. However, Thomas said this isn’t happening in rural areas like Newtown, where public transportation is a challenge.
“While he sits in his room, his emotional and social wellness declines and it manifests into erratic behavior,” Thomas said. “As he gets older, it’s harder for me to manage.”
“I think it’s fair to say, from a transportation standpoint, there are issues trying to get people to and from places, in general,” said First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, noting that while some strides have been made in finding employment for those with disabilities, it’s just a start.
“As leaders, it’s fair to say we could all do more. It’s something that needs attention. I don’t have all the answers. I think we need to collaborate,” Rosenthal said. “There’s no time like the present to get moving on it, too.”
“We need to establish something for him to be independent and successful because if I die, who will take care of him?” Thomas said.
While his mom feels desperate, Vitare dreams of a different life.
“Stocking shelves at like stores,” he said.
Thomas said she’ll always advocate for her son and hopes legislators and other parents hear their story and come together to make change.
“If you’re patient, kind, and have compassion, he’ll show you how spectacular he is,” Thomas said of her son.
News 8 reached out to the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services about this issue and did not hear back.