Disabled teen left with nowhere to live after his grandmother passed away

He was being raised by his grandmother after his mother died. Now, his grandmother has passed as well. So who will care for this disabled teenager?  The answer may surprise you.

We know when parents pass, their kids may be placed in foster care if there aren’t any family members to take them, but it isn’t as simple for a severely mentally disabled 19-year-old who functions as a two-year old but is legally considered an adult.

At 19 years old and only 55 pounds, Tristan has already lived a tough life. Now it’s even more difficult after his mom passed last year. Then after moving with his grandmother, she died last month.  

”It is horribly upsetting because I’ve known Tristan since the day he was born and I’ve watched him suffer and struggle,” says Vicki Shackelford, who was best friends with Tristan’s grandmother.

Tristan's two younger siblings are now in CPS custody in foster care, but Tristan is considered an adult. So APS, Adult Protective Services, is working to find a place for him.  

“She begged to have him placed before she passed, because she had stage four lung cancer,” Shackelford explains.

 Tristan is non-verbal, autistic, and self mutilates.  

"He will dig and scratch. His earlobes are gone because he’s ripped them off. He’s got scars all down his back," she said.

The 19-year-old is living in the house with his grandmother’s husband, but he says he can’t take care of Tristan and unlike CPS, APS doesn’t take custody of adults.

"Our agency, we don’t have placement. We work with community partners to help us do the placement,” says Adriana Franco with Adult Protective Services.

APS can help find a group home or nursing home and for an adult with disabilities, it isn’t easy.

"No. It is not easy.  If they have a lot of what they consider a high level of need we have to find the appropriate facility,” Franco explains. 

”He’s suffering and he deserves better,” says Shackelford.  

As a last resort, Vicki Shackelford dropped Tristan off at the emergency room and left him there in hopes he will get the care he needs.  

"We bawled. We cried the whole way out. It was awful. I don’t know if there’s a sadder sight to see,” says Shackelford.         

There are not a lot of options for Tristan, but APS is working to find a home for him where he can be properly cared for.

This is a link people can access to get help for people with disabilities.