This is a blog post by Leslie Long, Autism Speaks Director of Adult Services. Leslie recently attended a meeting of residential service providers and here she stresses the importance of securing residential services for young adults and adults with autism.
I recently had the pleasure of attending an annual meeting in Pittsburgh of a group of experts that serve adults with autism in homes throughout the country. This membership group is called NARPAA, and it is an acronym that only the most savvy autism provider knows. It stands for the National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism (NARPAA). The group has approximately 25 members and has been in existence for over 15 years. They are the living and breathing experience of supporting adults with autism. At Autism Speaks, we understand that there is a critical shortage of housing options for adults with autism and we want to listen to as many solutions and barriers as possible to help us understand the needs of the whole community. We are bound to groups like NARPAA to help solve the housing crisis. NARPAA represents support models across the country that range from supported living to rural, farmstead settings. The group comes together to meet once a year to share their wisdom and experience and we want to be at the table when they share promising practices and challenges.
Issues differ from state to state and they are sometimes the first to learn how a new policy will impact support for adults with autism. As thousands of adults with autism and their families are experiencing, developing and maintaining a home is not an easy task. There are many different issues to consider that include but is not limited to capital costs, operating costs, support services, etc. We sometimes forget to ask the people that have been handling this complicated part of adult services for the longest. At the meeting in Pittsburgh, discussion focused on diminishing state and federal budgets, the increasing demand for residential support for adults with autism, new and restrictive regulations and how they can continue to lead their organizations with a focus on quality of life for adults with autism. I, along with my colleagues at Autism Speaks, am always impressed by their candor and due diligence when we attend their meetings and the Pittsburgh meeting was no different. The Autism Speaks National Market Survey on Housing and Residential Supports was put on their agenda for this meeting. We appreciate being part of their group and thank them for helping us spread the word on the importance of getting all perspectives. We know how important it is to understand the provider perspective as well as the individual and family perspective because this community cannot work in isolation of each other’s efforts. To learn more about NARPPA click here.