Jan 7, 2024, BNN: Navigating the Housing Crisis for Autistic Adults in Massachusetts: An Inside Look https://bnnbreaking.com/breaking-news/health/navigating-the-housing-crisis-for-autistic-adults-in-massachusetts-an-inside-look/
The journey from childhood to adulthood for individuals grappling with autism is fraught with significant challenges. The most daunting among these is often the quest for suitable housing and daily support services. This struggle is not just a theoretical construct but a tangible reality for many families with autistic members, a reality that I, as a former program coordinator at Community Autism Resources and a mother of a 37-year-old daughter with autism, have personally experienced.
Unmasking the Housing Crisis
My daughter’s discharge from a dayhab program threw into sharp relief the grim issue that many families like ours face – a system ill-equipped to serve the burgeoning number of autistic adults. It’s a wake-up call to the urgent need for housing solutions. The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and its vendors, in their inability to provide necessary support, stand testament to this critical deficiency.
Understanding the Magnitude
The failing of the state in predicting the surge in demand for housing, despite the availability of special education data, has snowballed into a crisis. Analysis by Autism Housing Pathways (AHP) augurs a considerable number of young adults requiring group home placements and supportive housing units annually. The state does have a supportive housing program that could potentially be scaled up to meet this demand, but the challenge lies in overcoming the lack of political will to channel sufficient funding into these housing and service programs.
Identifying Potential Solutions
Despite the gloomy landscape, there are glimmers of hope. The Group Adult Foster Care program, a relatively obscure initiative, has demonstrated success in providing housing and daily support services to disabled adults, including those with autism, in the Boston area. With appropriate funding and political commitment, this model holds the promise of resolving the housing crisis for autistic adults within the next decade.
It is high time we acknowledge the scale of this issue and galvanize our resources to provide a dignified and secure life for autistic adults. The time for action is not tomorrow or the day after; it is today, it is now.