Monday, May 14, 2012

Agricultural Communities for Adults with Autism

Mother's Day
According to the ACAA website, the "Agricultural Communities for Adults with Autism (ACAA) is a consortium of existing and in-formation organizations focused on sharing best practices and advocating for holistic, agricultural based employment and housing models for adults with autism."

The website continues with:

Our consortium was created to provide information to adults with autism, their families, academics, professionals, legislators, policy makers and others and as a portal to link to our member's sites and other relevant resources. We want to educate people about the common characteristics and differences in agricultural communities in the United States. Our website also exists to dispel the incorrect notion that agricultural communities are institutional, segregated congregate care models when, in fact, our members, residents, and day program participants are strongly woven into the fabric of their respective communities. We are non-urban, low density community based integrated models.
Agricultural communities are a terrific option for adults with autism in our community who prefer the choice of a non-urban, community based, active lifestyle that typically combines a variety of rewarding employment opportunities with quality, affordable housing and a wealth of activities in their local communities.
All of our communities report no openings and long waiting lists. Turnover is rare because we offer lifespan models. We are contacted daily by people from all over the world who want to have the choice of an agricultural model like one of ours. We give dozens of tours a year to interested adults and their families. We think the only way they will be able to access an agricultural model is to come together with others to create a model in their own area.
Creating a community is difficult but not impossible. Some of us are in formation but many have already created communities. Some have been in place for decades so the models are "time-tested" and successful.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blogpost about Special Dreams Farm in St. Clair Township, Michigan.
Another project in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, is called Autism Agricultural Community Option for Residential Needs or AACORN FARM. This link is to a progress report on AACORN's organization. The ACAA website has links to many other groups who have successfully set up agricultural communities or are attempting to do so and other resources.

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