Independent Living Units

1. Vision

Our vision is to provide a person - centered community for adults with autism where their lives can be enriched. The project will provide services for adults who are largely forgotten after they leave high school. Our plan is to create a place where learning can provide choice and independence while allowing opportunities for social interaction and privacy.

2. Location

While the exact location is unclear project sites under consideration include:

  1. On a bus route
  2. In a quiet residential setting
  3. Open areas for outdoor activities
  4. Close to State College for ease of travel and proximity to amenities and job opportunities
  5. Proper zoning to allow this type of communal housing

3. Building Wings

The building has been designed to have (2) residential wings attached to a central core. In each wing are efficiency, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom housing units. While we continue this path of discovery and development the unit numbers and types may change to match needs. Each wing offers a computer area and central activity space for socializing, gaming, or simply reading. We also envision a small kitchenette for family visits. Natural light will be introduced into the central space from overhead skylights and large windows at the end of the corridors. The wings have been designed with the following core values: choice and independence, health and wellness, and dignity and growth.

4. Unit Types

Each unit will include a small kitchen so that residents can prepare their own food. Group meals may be prepared a few times a week and on special occasions, as the community decides. There will be steps taken to ensure that occupants feel safe and secure in their home. These precautions will differ to some extent based on specific resident needs but start with an on-site presence of trained ACRES staff or volunteers.

5. Central Core

The core is designed to support services for high functioning adults on the autism spectrum as well as day programs for folks that need more help. Areas are designated in the proposed plan for cooking, vocational training, music, and dancing / activities. Meeting spaces can be arranged for gatherings of 50 or more. Special rooms can accommodate adults requiring greater assistance. This core will provide a place to draw in the community, raise awareness for autism and conduct special events.

6. Outdoor Space

Outdoor space will be provided for residents to exercise, get enrichment or just relax. This area includes plans for aquaponics, gardens, bird houses and athletic activities.

7. Programming

The programming model is under development but will be administered by a qualified specialist in the field of autism. Discussions have already begun with the Special Education Department at the Pennsylvania State University. Several doctoral candidates as well as undergraduate professors are excited to partner with ACRES to provide programming as well as educational internships. The programs will provide support in the following areas:

  1. Health and wellness
  2. Social Interaction
  3. Individualized goal setting, support and tracking
  4. Self - management
  5. Employment training and personal enrichment courses

8. Ownership Model

One goal of the project is to have the residents (and their families) own individual living units similar to a condominium project. The units can then be sold after your use for them is over. Ownership, we feel will foster a vested interest by families to keep the building and grounds in top condition. Residents may also own a portion of the core area. The condominium structure has not been formalized, but will be available at a later date. It is our plan, however, to procure community donations to fund much of the core and to split its use as a community center as well as an enrichment area for our adults with autism.

9. Contacts

It is our hope that you find this project as exciting as we do. Please feel free on the lines below to provide contact information for anyone you think that might benefit from the program or could provide help or guidance as this community is developed. All input is greatly appreciated.