Family asks awareness, understanding for autistic daughter

Abby Bliss
Abby Bliss

Jack and Amy Bliss’s daughter, Abby, turned 18 in July and they’ve spent the last year working on all of the requirements necessary to become a Medicaid Certified Family Home so they can not only continue to keep her home with them, but also get paid to essentially be her nursing home. The transition of her services and needs as Abby reaches adulthood, Amy writes, has been the most frustrating time of their lives.

Guardianship, Conservatorship, Adult SSI, Adult Medicaid, Medicaid for Adults with Developmental Delays and Becoming a CFH. Thousands of dollars and an entire year of their life.

“Of course we will do whatever is asked because Abby belongs here with us,” Amy writes.

Abby has an extensive history of eloping (escaping). Over the years the family has needed the assistance of the community to help find her. Thankfully she has always been found safe and unharmed.

In order to become a CFH, they can’t have doors or windows on their Van Buren Street home that “require a key or special knowledge to exit” for fire safety.

“At present we have double-sided deadbolts that require a key to enter or exit our exterior doors,” Amy writes. “We also have had to secure our windows so she cannot open them. I’ll be honest I am terrified of taking the locks off. I have filed for exemptions but have been denied with no recourse.”

Autism has caused Abby to have little to no personal safety awareness. In the past when she has eloped, she has been found in a neighbor’s pond (she cannot swim), on the railroad tracks (she once almost made it to the golf course), in a church bus, she has entered multiple neighbors’ houses and/or garages.

She does not mean harm or destruction, she is just curious of everything. She often has a “present” meant for a certain location. Her most recent habit is wanting to write a sentence on printer paper and leave it at a school or house. As a rule, the family, including Abby’s sister, Bridget, try to help her accomplish her goal of gifting, and then try to go back to retrieve the gifts.

“We don’t want to be littering or confusing people as to why something is left for them,” Amy explained.

They are changing back to regular dead bolts this week but are not giving up. They will be installing loud alarms on the doors and gates as well as motion sensors.

“In the past, alarms were not effective,” Amy writes. “She didn’t care if they went off or not. But what are our options? I hate the idea of going back to living in that type of constant fear. Alarms do not physically hinder her from escaping in any way. Her therapy teams and us are continually working on her asking to go outside. She should never be unsupervised but she has a habit of causing a distraction so she can escape.”

Amy felt the need to share this so those in the neighborhood ever see Abby out alone, you’ll know your help is needed. If Abby Bliss is seen alone outside on foot or on a bike, it is an emergency and the family asks you to please pick up your phone and call them or 911 to report her whereabouts.

  • Amy – (208) 610-5182
  • Jack – (208) 217-1894
  • Bridget – (208) 255-0486

Abby is small for her age at only 4’10” and she has black hair and brown eyes. She is often dressed in purple but not always as in the past. Abby is minimally verbal, meaning that you cannot have a conversation with her. She has many memorized words or phrases, but she has little functional verbal communication. She often repeats back what is said to her and does not often respond to her name. She is terrified of unfamiliar dogs, no matter how calm or nice they are.

The Bliss family has and continues giving Abby the best life possible, and extend their gratitude for all the help from neighbors over the years. They pray for your continued awareness, patience and most of all, understanding.