Housing and Community Living

Moving out of the family home is one of the biggest decisions in a person’s life. For a person on the autism spectrum, finding and securing a house and caregiving supports can be complicated for you and your family. Autism Speaks can make this planning easier through tools and resources to guide you through the process. This Housing and Community Living section contains information you need to help you search for housing options and keep you informed. 

As a first step, download our Transition Roadmap to Housing and Residential Supports to help you begin your journey. This roadmap is for you if you are:

  • An autistic student planning for your future.
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  • A young adult with autism looking for more information about housing and support options available to you.
  • A parent, family member or caregiver of a child with autism.

This personalized, interactive tool provides a series of goals and resources up to age 22 to help you get ready for independent housing. You can work through the roadmap at your own pace and choose the age and support level most meaningful to you.

Each goal in the roadmap includes key action steps, including:

  • Practicing life skills at home and in the community
  • Developing strategies for independent living
  • Applying for Home and Community-based Services
  • Researching low-income housing options
  • Saving for adult housing
  • Securing residential services and supports

Questions to ask before planning a move

Start with making some basic decisions on where you want to live, what type of house, what supports you will need. Below are considerations when deciding on a home and community to live in:

group homes for autistic adults near me, adults standing arms around eachother

What type of neighborhood do I want to live?

  • Suburban 
  • Urban (city area)
  • Rural (houses spread far apart)
  • Farmstead

What type of house do I want to live in?

  • Single Family Home
  • Planned Community
  • Townhouse
  • Apartment with a common space for residents
  • Multi-family attached house
  • Assisted Living Facility

What level of support will I need to live in the community?

  • 24 hours per day
  • Supports throughout the day
  • Supports a few hours per day
  • Support a few hours per week
  • Minimal support (I am independent)

Other issues to consider 

  • Health services coordination and medication administration
  • Behavioral and mental health support
  • Respite for caregivers
  • Career support
  • Community integration
  • ICF/IDD services
  • Social opportunities
  • Money management
  • Support at home
  • Family support

Funding your physical home and paying for the supports you need are usually separate parts of this process. You'll need to decide how you will pay for the residence, who will manage the property, who will pay the utilities, and who will contact the service providers for help.

For the actual physical house, you will need to consider the public and private funding options available in your state.

For service supports, you will need to consider applying for public funding - through Social Security and Medicaid - and/or private pay options. Find the service providers in your state.

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Community-Based Skills Assessment (CSA)

The transition out of school-based services for students with autism can be difficult. There is no "one size fits all" plan for the path to adulthood.

The most important factor in creating a plan is to focus on the individual. His or her strengths, needs, challenges and preferences will be vital to a successful transition process.

The CSA helps parents and professionals assess the current skill levels and abilities of students with autism beginning at age 12. The results will help you develop a unique and comprehensive plan. Eight areas of functional life skills are assessed, including home living skills. 

Explore the CSA.

Housing and residential support options for adults

All parents worry about their children’s future, but for the 19% of people with disabilities, that parental concern is even greater - especially when it comes to financial planning and the transition to adulthood. More than 300 people traveled from five different states to attend the first Special Needs Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD.

The morning was dedicated to special needs financial planning and was funded through a partnership with the SunTrust Foundation as part of a regional series of workshops dedicated to “Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being” through education and resources.  

See the session below about housing and residential support options, delivered by Angela Lello, Senior Director of Public Policy for Autism Speaks:

Additional Housing Resources

The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) 
CSH is a national non-profit organization that helps communities create permanent housing with services to prevent and end homelessness.

Creative Housing Solutions LLC 
Creative Housing Solutions provides consulting, technical support, planning and ownership advice, architectural support services, and education in support of the design of environments that support people with varying abilities, interests and lifestyles.

Opening Doors: A Discussion of Residential Options for Adults Living with Autism and Related Disorders 
A collaborative study by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Arizona, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), the Arizona State University (ASU) Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family and the ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

A Place in the World: Fueling Housing and Community Options for Adults with Autism and Other Neurodiversities (APITW)
A groundbreaking 2020 study out of First Place Global Leadership Institute that serves as the definitive tri-sector resource for the housing industry, direct service providers, policymakers, scholars, researchers and various other stakeholders. It sets forth a foundational nomenclature for housing and service delivery models, with the goal to further define market segments, best practices and guiding principles. First Place Global Leadership Summit hosts an annual symposium of changemakers in healthcare, housing, workplace/workforce development and education for adults with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities.

A National Review of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders 
This Policy Research Brief summarizes the results of a national study on the status of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) for persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Published by the Research and Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota.

Independent Living Research Utilization 
ILRU Directory of Centers for Independent Living and Statewide Independent Living Councils.

Legal Guidelines, prepared for Autism Speaks by Goodwin Procter, LLP

Section 8 Made Simple - Special Edition: Using the Housing Choice Voucher Program to End Chronic Homelessness 
Offers step-by-step guidance on finding and securing housing through the HCV program.