Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, affecting 1 in 50 children — 1 in 31 boys and 1 in 143 girls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the coming decade, as many as 500,000 children with autism will reach adulthood, yet very few residential options exist to care for them.
Those living at home may need a level of care that can impact the quality of life for the entire family — some require 24/7 supervision while others need some form of daily living assistance. Aging parents are often ill-equipped to provide ongoing care, and options outside the family home are limited. Those options that do exist often have waiting lists of 8 to 10 years. Frequently, adults with autism are placed in facilities that are not designed nor equipped to handle their specific needs.
The growing demand for autism-specific support, programs, employment, and housing has already reached crisis levels. In 2009, a group of families with children with autism collaborated with professionals and civic leaders to found a non-profit organization with a vision: to design and build a residential community for adults with autism unlike anything available today. Our community leverages and optimizes the insights and knowledge gained through autism research while embracing sustainable design and best practices. We have created a residential environment that reflects the beauty and spirit of the surrounding area while offering supported living and a variety of enrichment activities. Sweetwater Spectrum is a place that provides a feeling of belonging while maximizing residents’ individual development and independence, so residents can live life with purpose, dignity, and access to a variety of daily opportunities.
Created as a pilot community, Sweetwater Spectrum represents a long overdue model that is intended to be replicated nationwide. By bringing together a group of thought-leaders who had the time, energy, planning and financial skills, Sweetwater Spectrum has created an innovative community solution that can be leveraged and replicated for future generations of adults with autism.