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AARP The Magazine


The New American Family

Meet 6 clans who embody our country's changing ideas about what kinship is

Party of Two

Autism has grown more common in this country, and boomer parents tend to keep their autistic adult children at home with them.

Modern Factor: "I want everything for my son that any mother would want," Shebah Carfagna says of 24-year-old Geno. "The only difference is, he probably won't leave me."

Geno has a form of autism that would make it difficult for him to live independently. "Other people have grown children in college or off making decisions on their own, and I don't have that option," says Shebah, 57. "But I tell people it's not a sad story. It's a great story."

Six years ago, Shebah left a career in fundraising and public relations to launch a personal-training company, Panache Fitness. As her own boss, she has more flexible hours to meet Geno's needs. (She is separated from Geno's father, who sees his son on the weekends.)

"Geno gave me the courage to become an entrepreneur," Shebah says. "I love what I do."

Her son's days are busy with classes, a job bagging groceries, and sports. "He's a social butterfly," Shebah says. "I work to make sure he's not just in the community, but a productive member of the community."

Next page: The boomerang bunch (video). »

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