Bridging the Opportunity Divide

See the House Built Specifically for Autistic Adults

September 30, 2014
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See the House Built Specifically for Autistic Adults
Future residents and their families breaking ground at Sweetwater Spectrum´s new 2.8 acre site. Facebook/Sweetwater Spectrum
This residence is the first of its kind.

There’s something new on the horizon for three of acres of prime land in Sonoma, California. And no, it’s not a vineyard or winery, but rather, the first home designed specifically for autistic adults.

With one in 88 kids being diagnosed with autism, the question asked by many families is, what to do when these children reach adulthood?

The solution? Sweetwater Spectrum, which is the culmination of the efforts of families of autistic children, civic leaders and autism professionals. Together, they were able to design and fund the privately-developed $9 million home.

Comprised of four 3,250 square feet houses, the community will be able to house 16 residents over the age of 18. Living facilities aren’t the only accommodation as the Sweetwater Spectrum community also boasts common areas that include a communal kitchen, an exercise studio, a one-acre organic garden, , a swimming pool, hot tubs, art and music rooms and more.

To make it even more unique, the place is designed to reduce unnecessary sensory stimulation (which can be bothersome to those with autism). In addition, it has natural ventilation and solar photovoltaic panels on the roof.

While many homes have strict, rigid schedules, there’s no typical day at Sweetwater Spectrum. Rather, residents can work part-time, attend junior college or participate in one of the house’s day programs. Furthermore, the community offers enrichment activities in the evenings and on weekends.

In order to apply, the person must be on the autism spectrum, want to live there and have a care plan, which is very important according to CEO and executive director Deirdre Sheerin.

“We have an abundant tolerance for a person with autism … but we also need to have a safe environment,” Sheerin explains to Fast Company. “There has to be certain level of acting-out behavior that can be managed through a treatment plan, an individualized plan for care.”

So far, the house has received attention across the country and the globe — even as far away as Saudi Arabia. Although living at Sweetwater Spectrum is costly — $3,200 per month ($650 per month for rent and an extra community fee of $2,600 per month) — many people have already expressed interest. In fact, there are 18 active applications and five people have leases or expressed a desire to lease.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?

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