OHIO — Leaving the nest is a right of passage for many young adults and their parents.
But for one Cleveland area family, a mother moved out in order to become an "empty-nester" and give her son a chance to fly on his own.
It's now Ben Hill’s home.
The 35-year-old has lived in his family's Shaker Heights home for most of his life, but he’s only been on his own for a few months.
"He’s very confident with it," said his mother, Cindy Hill. "I’m not. I had trouble letting him go because I didn’t trust the technology.”
Cindy is proud of her son’s newfound independence and she’s enjoying some freedom too for the first time in decades.
“And I am free to go anywhere I want. I haven’t experienced this before," she said with a smile.
Cindy now lives in a nearby apartment and is able to just “check in” with Ben instead of caring for him round-the-clock.
“We have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. I feel like we’re in a cocoon, or he is, of safety now," she said.
It’s all possible thanks to the help of Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Medicaid and technology.
“Safe at home," Ben explained during one of his SafeinHome virtual calls. SafeinHome offers 24/7 remote support and promotes independent living for people with disabilities and seniors.
Ben was born with a heart defect and he was later diagnosed with autism and a genetic disorder called 22Q.
Cindy wasn’t sure if he’d ever be self-sufficient.
“He’s doing much more than he’s ever done and I didn’t even help with it," she said.
DeJohn Dixon, 18, of Homewatch CareGivers is Ben’s aide and new buddy.
“He’s full of wild adventures,” said Dixon.
The pair like to make music, watch movies and work out together six days a week.
“I feel like I’m at a friend’s house," said Dixon.
And the Hills created a "smart house."
Plenty of safety monitoring gadgets, handrails, motion sensors, keyless locks and a sense of structure have made it easier for Cindy to let go.
“The key to all of this is to have something be consistent," said Cindy.
While their close bond is forever, a little distance can be a good thing and make the heart grow fonder.
“He is right on track. Like he was so behind for so many years that, you know, I treated him younger and now that I treat him like a 35-year-old, an independent guy in a house, he’s rising to the occasion," said Cindy.
“It’s nice," said Ben.
You can follow along with Ben's journey through Cindy's blog called Clarity Cleveland.