Helping Adults with Autism Live Independently

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Posted By on June 17, 2014

First Place AZ 2

First Place AZ is launching a new residential transition academy for adults with autism at 29 Palms Apartments in Phoenix, an affordable housing property that co-locates 15 units for seniors with six two-bedroom apartments for adults with autism.

The property renovation is a development by the Foundation for Senior Living (FSL) in collaboration with First Place AZ and the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC). Together with DECCA Multi-Family Builders and Dohrmann Architects, Inc., the development team designed 29 Palms Apartments to be responsive to the needs of adults with autism to live independently.

First Place AZ is a nonprofit organization advancing innovative residential options for adults with autism and related disorders.

A June 18 ribbon cutting ceremony will celebrate the recently completed construction and the beginning of a new residential program by First Place AZ and SARRC for adults with autism. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. along with a tour to follow.

“SARRC’s focus on a lifetime of support has led to the development of services and programs that are inclusive and community-based, and that maximize independence,” said Daniel Openden, Ph.D., BCBA-D, president & CEO of SARRC. “Building a residential program with the clearly stated goal of transitioning adults to live as independently as possible in their home communities is both a bold venture and logical next step.”

The property will serve as a beta site for a larger property now in the planning stages that will house an academy for students, supported housing/apartments for residents and a 10,000-square-foot leadership institute.

The First Place Academy, operated by First Place AZ and SARRC, is now evaluating prospective students. Students accepted to the program will be enrolled this fall. The academy is modeled after the celebrated Taft College Transition to Independent Living (TIL) program, founded in 1995.

According to Denise D. Resnik, First Place AZ founder and SARRC co-founder, “More than 300 students with autism and related disorders have graduated from the Taft Transition to Independent Living program and are living more independently than they and their families ever imagined. They are also saving the State of California hundreds of millions based on career-readiness, greater independence early in adult life and the significant reduction in state-funded support services.”

Jeff Ross, founder and creator of the Taft program, recently retired after more than 37 years in the community college system, and has relocated to Arizona to serve as the First Place AZ executive director.

FSL will further support the adults with autism through a technology and communication platform specifically designed for the property and its residents. Del Sol Furniture is providing interior furnishings.

Special features of 29 Palms:

•    Quiet, visually calm environment
•    Secure doors and windows; safety glass; perimeter fence
•    Formaldehyde-free cabinets and doors
•    Adequate natural ventilation
•    Indirect lighting
•    Acoustical grade windows and doors
•    Sound absorption panels
•    Daily task scheduling and assistance

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