Kingwood family needs help to keep brother with autism in rehab

KINGWOOD, Texas (KTRK) -- For 49 years, Larry Dulaney has gone to a rehab center in Houston for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Part of his day is spent practicing life skills, the rest is a job. Larry has autism and doesn't speak much, but his family can tell he wants to be there.

Michael Dulaney, Larry's brother, told the Turn to Ted team, "I think that's very important for someone like Larry (to) feel like (he's) being integrated into society and making a contribution."

For many years, Larry's mother took him to the rehabilitation center. When her health declined, the family relied on a combination of her driving and Houston METRO to get Larry from Kingwood to downtown. Further health issues meant she couldn't get Larry to a Kingwood METRO transit center every day. The trip was 20 minutes each way.

In Houston, METRO LIFT provides almost door-to-door trips, but in Kingwood there is limited service. Larry's brother Michael realized the family needed help.

"This has been about four years worth of writing letters," Michael Dulaney said. "But it kind of fell on deaf ears. It's like that's -- it is what it is."

For Michael that wasn't enough. He said, "I felt like I had, I had exhausted all efforts and I felt like, Turn to Ted. I mean, he'll reason with them."

Days after the Turn to Ted team reached out to METRO, the agency's CEO himself wrote Michael with a great solution. A yellow cab METRO LIFT picks Larry up in the morning at home and takes Larry to the Kingwood transit center where a METRO Lift bus takes him into town. METRO reverses the process in the afternoon.

A few weeks in, we asked Larry if it's working for him? He answered emphatically in sign language, the only way he communicates.

His mother Lillian assured us, "Yes. This means yes."

After years of work, Michael wanted to make sure METRO got some credit for helping, "Thank you, Metro for finally coming through."

To make sure it works for the Dulaney's, METRO's CEO gave them contact numbers for the executive in charge of METRO LIFT, including his cell number. They haven't needed it so far. METRO says it's currently evaluating possible expansions to the METRO Lift service area.

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