I wrote this letter to my elected officials, because I feel the urgency to address the lack of affordable housing/living arrangements for autistic adults:
To all politicians running for local, state and federal offices:
I am writing to ask you one question: Can you help me to have a forever home?
I am sure you have not been asked a question like that before-at least from an autistic adult.
My problem is that both my parents are deceased. I have always been blessed to live in a neighborhood that is relatively quiet. I have lived in my home since my parents brought me home from Sherman Hospital in Elgin, IL 37 years ago. My older and only sibling now heads the household and she looks out for me.
But here is the question: Where will I live when she is gone? She is 12 years older and not in the best of health. I cannot work and make a living for myself. I am 100% dependent on her for everything aside from feeding and dressing myself.
I come across as a conundrum as I have an IQ of 110, but executive functioning comparable with a child. My severe sensory issues, primarily with dogs and children, make living just anywhere impossible.
I would be a horrible candidate for group home or section 8 apartment living. Those options are noisy and random. It would not be a safe option for others as well as myself.
There needs to be facilities built right here in Illinois, similar to Lambs Farm-where people can contribute at their individual level and also live free from the sensory agony of barking dogs and kids screaming on jungle gyms and teens blowing off fireworks in summer months.
My mother envisioned campus style living where each person had their own apartment, but no dogs or kids would be permitted to live there. What I envision would be more rural and have small, independent cottages fewer than 600 square feet.
A caregiver could live there if the individual wanted.
Autism is not experienced the same from one person to the next. As Stephen Shore said, “If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.”
There needs to be an oasis from the regular world, which is saturated with noise and distractions.
I don’t want to hear any more rhetoric about who did what. I want to hear if you care enough to work with agencies like AID and Pioneer Center along with others to create the kind of environment I’ve mentioned-and make sure it includes the poor like me who are among the 80% of autistic adults who can’t find work or are unable to.
Again, it would be safe for the regular community as well as the afflicted individual like me.
I don’t need to hear any more about our state’s debt. Money can always be found for infrastructure-maintaining our roads and bridges, but what about maintaining safe living environments for the most vulnerable among us?
I don’t want to wind up homeless or in jail because I didn’t have a safe place to live and couldn’t do the options currently available, had a meltdown and hurt someone or myself.
The election season is here. Please contact your local representative and voice your concerns about whether yourself or someone you love with autism having a safe place that accommodates their needs when parents are no longer alive. Community group homes and section 8 apartments (where crime and kids run rampant) aren’t enough.
Feel free to adapt and/or share this letter.
Find your U.S. Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
Find your U.S. Senator: http://www.senate.gov