This is the second in a series of blog posts by Allison Rogers. Please click here for the first post in the series. Allison is a lawyer in private practice in Washington D.C. and volunteers actively with Autism Speaks in their housing policy initiative. She has a younger brother, Adam, who has autism.
Each of us is on a journey. My family’s journey is just that – my family’s journey. I write my blogs not to force my opinion on you or to tell you to follow in my brother’s and my family's footsteps, but to hopefully provide some instruction and inspiration for those of you also wish to provide your loved ones with independent, yet supportive housing or community settings. Autism Speaks has gathered an abundance of educational materials for you to learn about housing and residential services. I recommend that you take advantage of these resources to empower and enlighten yourself, regardless of where you are in the housing process. Below are some steps you may decide to take, or even just start thinking about:
(1) Read the Autism Speaks Housing Tool Kit. This is a great introduction to the different housing options that exist out there, as well as how they can be funded, and the laws that facilitate their existence. It can be accessed for free here: http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/housing_tool_kit_web_1.pdf
(2) Learn about residential supports in your community. You can find local resources by state on the Autism Speaks’ Catalog of Residential Services here: http://www.autismspeaks.org/housing-catalog
Or you can search by state and zip code on the Family Services Resource Guide, and then click on “Residential Services” under the “Adult” section here: http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-guide
(3) Ask your school district. You can supplement your knowledge by contacting your school district to learn where graduates on the spectrum go after graduation and which agencies serve these adults and provide their residential services.
(4) Understand how the Medicaid Waiver works. Medicaid Home and Community-based Waiver services can provide residential support funding for adults on the autism spectrum if they are eligible. There are many resources that will provide information on Medicaid and Medicaid Waivers in your state including: http://medicaid.gov/
(5) Be an advocate. Learn about policy issues that can impact the autism community through AutismVotes.org. Advocacy should be individualized to your family’s needs first – learn what they need, and then pay it forward!
I am leaving you with a whole lot of materials to read, absorb and think about – I know it can seem overwhelming, but take it one step at a time. I look forward to navigating the housing laws and policy with you through more blog entries to come!
"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."
- Matsuo Basho