PHOENIX (Feb. 16, 2010) – Within the next 15 years, more than 500,000 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) will enter adulthood. Today, many adults with autism are being cared for by aging parents who in most cases will not outlive their children, leaving them limited options for lifelong support. This growing new subset of the developmentally disabled population―too old for continued support through the special education services of a public school system and too fragile to live without support in the larger world―and their families face a complicated system of vocational rehabilitation services, Medicaid, disconnected government agencies and a lack of appropriate residential care options beyond the obvious ones of keeping them at home or within institutional settings.
Opening Doors: A Discussion of Residential Options for Adults Living with Autism and Related Disorders, is a newly released collaborative study by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Arizona, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), the Arizona State University (ASU) Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family and the ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. The study focuses on the residential concerns of adults with autism and related disorders and is designed to advance the development of replicable residential models that offer quality, affordable housing options within the fabric of their communities. It also addresses current and projected demand for life-long living options that support the segment of individuals with autism spectrum and related disorders unable to live on their own. Further, the study explores the financial catalysts needed to spur new investment by the private and public sectors to meet projected demand and advocates for the creation of public-private-nonprofit collaborations to address long-term living, residential concerns.
The companion study for Opening Doors is Advancing Full Spectrum Housing: Designing for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, was produced by the Arizona State University Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, and ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.
These studies were funded through grants by Urban Land Foundation, Pivotal Foundation and SARRC.
“Our goal is to respond to the pressing question that’s looming today for millions of parents of children with autism and related disorders: Who will care for my child when I’m no longer able to do so? The dramatic increase in the population of affected individuals gives rise to serious concern among families, service providers, government and the community at-large that residential services for post-school-age adults with autism and developmental disorders must be created as an integral part of a healthy community’s housing plan and opportunities,” said Denise D. Resnik, SARRC Co-founder, Editor of Opening Doors and mother of an 18-year-old son with autism.
“We must restructure the way existing government funding is allocated to housing resources for the developmentally disabled in order to grow a sustainable real estate supply over time,” said George Bosworth, Urban Land Institute Arizona Executive Director.
The studies are intended to highlight existing residential options and support services, and guide the development of new options so they may serve as organic living and learning laboratories for scholars, social workers and families. Opening Doorsproposes actionable steps that address the increasing demand for supportive housing and communities, which maximize independent living.
“Although there are a variety of sources for capital funding, organizations most often use two to three sources to cobble together a workable financial model for the projects,” said Joe Blackbourn, SARRC Board Member, Everest Holdings President and CEO, and former ULI Arizona Chairman.
Based on the synthesis of existing research and field research of several case studies, an inventory profile was developed of more than 100 "best practice" residential developments for adults with ASDs or other special needs conditions.
“Advancing Full Spectrum Housing, introduces housing providers, architects, developers, planners, public officials and others involved in the residential development industry to conditions and aspirations of adults with autism that demand a new approach to the design and development of homes,” said Sherry Ahrentzen, Associate Director of Research for the ASU Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, a research entity in the ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.
“Directed by 10 resident-based design goals, the design guidelines – ranging from neighborhood amenities to technological assistive devices in the home – provide a robust platform that architects, housing providers, families and residents can use to identify and select design features that best respond to specific needs and aspirations of residents,” said Kim Steele, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture in the ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.
Urban Land Institute is the preeminent, multidisciplinary real estate forum, facilitating the open exchange of ideas, information and experience among local, national and international industry leaders and policy makers dedicated to creating better places. The mission of the ULI is to provide responsible leadership in the use of land to enhance the total environment. For more information, visit http://www.uli.org/.
The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, founded in 1997, is a nonprofit, community-based organization in Phoenix, Arizona, dedicated to autism research, education and outreach to individuals with autism and their families. SARRC undertakes self-directed and collaborative research, serves as a satellite site for national and international projects, and provides up-to-date information, training and assistance to families and professionals about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). For more information, visit http://autismcenter.org/.
The School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University offers a holistic approach to design, blending teaching and research in a forward-thinking environment. Our more than 1,600 students are challenged to think creatively about architecture, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, urban design and visual communications design. The school also houses InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary research and educational laboratory that unites design, business and engineering. Phoenix and the Southwestern desert’s extreme environmental conditions provide an innovative laboratory for teaching and applied research. To learn more, visit:http://sala.asu.edu.
The ASU Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, a research entity in the ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, supports organizations, neighborhoods and professionals in their efforts to improve the growth of quality affordable homes and sustainable communities through research, educational outreach, advocacy and design innovation. The center opened its doors in January 2005 with initial funding from a gift from Jerry Bisgrove and the Stardust Foundation. For more information, visit http://stardust.asu.edu.
Denise D. Resnik
Denise Resnik and Associates