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Jill Escher, Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area, Illustrates the Compelling Case for First Place

Our mission to enhance quality of life that leads to more independent living options stretches far beyond the heart of Greater Phoenix, home to our first First Place property. What Jill illustrates are the very real and most pressing issues faced everywhere:  a growing adult population needing more opportunities to succeed and more communities allowing individuals with autism and other special abilities to thrive. First Place is a first big step toward community-connected and more independent living. It is the first of many steps for many communities across North America.

New Adult Program Collaborative: Thinking Beyond Wait Lists

By: Jill Escher, President of Autism Society San Francisco Bay AreaI’m a big fan of self-determination, the new law that will increase options for individualized programs and services for developmentally disabled adults. With more than 250,000 Developmental Services clients in California, including at least 75,000 with autism (up from just 3,000 25 years ago), there is no doubt a vast and ever-growing spectrum of needs.

I’m a big fan of self-determination, the new law that will increase options for individualized programs and services for developmentally disabled adults. With more than 250,000 Developmental Services clients in California, including at least 75,000 with autism (up from just 3,000 25 years ago), there is no doubt a vast and ever-growing spectrum of needs.

But while we embrace opportunities for customization, we must also recognize how deeply parents desire firmly rooted programs, secure homes not subject to the whims of the market, and dependable organizations to provide ongoing support and care for our kids who are incapable of providing it for themselves.

As the adult autism boom continues indefinitely, we are facing a dearth of autism-serving adult programs and housing; and the few organizations that exist struggle to keep afloat, held hostage by budgetary constraints amid incredibly high costs of doing business in the Bay Area. Not to mention the pressing need for stable, trained caregivers who can receive a decent wage.

None of us will live forever, and as we age, we will increasingly need to rely on competent and caring entities to manage the complexities of our grown children’s daily lives. Self-Determination adds a necessary component of flexibility to our system, but we must also cultivate a new breed of “backbone” adult autism organizations we can depend upon to protect and guide our children through their lifespans.

In an effort to strengthen adult autism infrastructure throughout the Bay Area, we have launched a collaborative of autism-serving adult programs to find solutions. Years-long wait lists are unconscionable, but that is our future unless we work together for change.

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