Several years ago a few parents of children with autism began meeting regularly to jointly explore what life after high school would look like for our children. What was found—or rather NOT found—was terrifying. For the children with autism unable to attend college, the supportive educational environment and social relationships parents worked so hard to establish would end at age 22.
An adult system for autistic individuals that includes housing and supports work, volunteer opportunities, recreation, and social activities simply doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist because there has never been an autistic adult population of this magnitude.
So we set out to build a future for adults with autism. Our work so far has included:
• Researched over 150 planned and existing homes and communities for adults with developmental disabilities
• Visited Ohio-based autism-specific residences and farms
• Defined gaps between projected need & capacity of housing services and funding
• Collaborated on OSU co-design research projects studying the inclusion of individuals with autism in the design process
• Compiled extensive library of studies, reports, and best practice models for housing, transition, and services
• Developed three-year strategic plan and detailed one-year action plan
• Outlined potential housing solutions
• Initiated messaging and presentation materials
• Joined together 50+ autism families and caregivers
• Established extensive relationships with industry notables, policymakers and collaborators
• Initiated discussions with developers and service providers
• Connected with state agencies to thoroughly understand limitations and opportunities
• Successfully advocated for (as individuals) significant Medicaid waiver policy changes regarding housing settings for individuals with disabilities