On Tuesday, March 19, 2019 Autism McLean opened a forum with its community to discuss the development of independent housing for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is an important conversation because of an increasing discussion around the diagnosis of autism and how to accommodate to individuals of all ages on the spectrum in our society.

While the forum is open to everyone, the hope is that the autism community will come out and speak to their diverse needs. Jaquie Mace, the president of Autism McLean, spoke to The Pantagraph about the issues they are hoping to address. “The biggest fear for any parent of a child with a disability is, ‘Who will take care of my child when something happens to me?'” Mace said.

The purpose of the Tuesday meeting will be to discuss housing availability and eligibility and to answer parents’ questions, Mace said. The March 19 meeting will begin a conversation about developing a model to meet housing needs, according to The Pantagraph.

Autism McLean serves those in McLean County, Illinois, and communicates with housing communities in the area, like Marcfirst, Homes of Hope, and the Bloomington Housing Authority. These agencies offer support to autistic individuals, but funding for beneficial programs often comes up short, making it hard for these programs to further develop.

Kari Sandhaas, a board member of Autism McLean shared, with Marry Cullen of WGLT, “We’d like to look at what our other communities doing. Are there other nonprofits or self-funded kinds of models that would expand opportunities grants? We want to brainstorm about what what else there could be to meet the gap.”

Sandhaas is the founder of Autism Friendly Community, a program that stems from Autism McLean, dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance for the autism community.

It’s important to place disabled adults in a program that is a good fit for them. The American Autism Association also offers resources that can help families find alternative housing. You can browse these resources here.

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