Autism Speaks Awards $50,000

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Posted By on June 29, 2016

First Place rendering

Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, recently awarded $50,000 to First Place, an Arizona-based nonprofit serving adults with autism and other special needs, as a recipient of its House to Home Prize, a HeroX crowdsourcing challenge launched last year.

The competition, designed to reach a global audience of problem solvers, attracted more than 250 competitors from 63 countries who submitted innovative, multifacetedideas for developing alternative housing and support services for the growing number of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

In the next decade alone, 500,000 teens with ASD will transition to adulthood. More than 80 percent of adults with autism currently live with their parents because there are few other options, and many parents wonder what will happen when they are no longer able to oversee their child’s care. ASD can interfere with verbal and nonverbal communication, affect social interactions, and cause intense interests and/or repetitive behaviors. The support needs of people with ASD to live outside of their family home vary depending upon the challenges they face.

First Place, a residential prototype for adults with autism and other special abilities, builds life, work and social skills by integrating three components:  apartment units for a mix of residents who live independently in a supportive environment; a transition academy that teaches vocational and life skills; and a leadership institute that facilitates research, informs public policy, and trains professionals and parents to help young adults with autism thrive. Residents and students become part of the community through jobs, continuing education, volunteer opportunities and recreation.

First Place is thrilled to receive this national recognition from Autism Speaks for our approach to more abundant housing options for individuals with autism and other special needs and abilities,” said Denise D. Resnik, First Place founder, board chair and president. “Together, we can build a new market, transcend old ways of thinking and ensure that housing options for people with autism are as bountiful as they are for anyone else.”

Supportive of creating more housing options, the Arizona Department of Housing has been an active and long-time adviser to First Place.

“For individuals with autism or any disability, living away from the family home independently can seem like a dream that’s out of reach. Fortunately, organizations like First Place are breaking down barriers and providing innovative programs and housing that promote independent and interdependent living,” said Mike Trailor, director of the Arizona Department of Housing. 

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