While housing for adults with autism is scarce to non-existent, there are a few places where parents and providers are looking toward the future. Check out some of these examples for ideas and inspiration.
Research / Studies
There isn’t much substantive research out there about how persons with autism are living, what they want, or what environments work best — with one shining exception (that I’ve found so far): in 2008, the faculty and students of the ASU Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, and Arizona State University’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture combined forces to come up with a landmark study. They looked at existing research and over 100 existing housing locations for adults with ASD or other special needs and came up with a set of 10 design goals and guidelines for anyone interested in future housing design and development. The goals cover everything from neighborhood amenities to safety considerations to sensory-based architecture to technological assistive devices in the home. They each produced their own report as a companion to the other, and each reports is comprehensive in it’s own way. Plan to set aside at least a hour to dive into these reports, as they make fascinating reading. After you finish, you may want to start sketching out your own vision of a house for your family’s needs. With these reports in hand and some ideas of your own, you can walk into an architect’s or contractor’s office and have an intelligent conversation based on real evidence of what works.
Existing Housing & Projects
This is simply the most ambitious project I’ve come across. It’s a planned community for adults with autism. It incorporates the expertise of a small Board of Directors with the results of the Arizona study to design a work/play/live residential subdivision. It is also one of the most politically informative sites I’ve ever seen about the challenges facing anyone who wants to create housing for the disabled. If you are serious about solving your own housing challenges, you need to spend a few good hours surfing here. You’ll leave with a different picture in your head, I promise you.
Judy Owens is a business entrepreneur, writer and friend who, after 17 years as an I.T. professional, altered her course to open a staffing agency for persons with disabilities.