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Adults and Autism

One common question within the autism community is “What happens to adults with autism when they turn 22 and there are no more school programs for them?” This week, we’re going to take a look at some of the institutional and cultural efforts being made to provide adults with autism with the care and support they need.

First up, in response to the above question, Jeanine Stanley and Pamela Hale Mitchell are aiming to solve that dilemma through the creation of the B Walker Ranch, which is a day program for special needs adults. Stanley is the mother of a 26-year-old son with autism while Hale Mitchell has a 51-year-old-brother with autism.

With the help of nearly 20 volunteers, the fence was installed at the 10-acre ranch that comes with a barn, house, and other structures. Once the construction is complete, the B Walker Ranch intends to offer a wide range of programs that range from agriculture and animal husbandry to nutrition and meal planning.

The clients are referred to as “ranchers” and they have both a wide terrain to explore as well as plenty of space to find solitude as needed. Stanley and Hale Mitchell have been working on this project for nearly three years and hopes that the B Walker Ranch will become a staple of their community in helping adults with autism.

Elsewhere in the world, Singapore is about to build its first-ever residential facility for adults with autism. The St Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC) has been appointed by the Social and Family Development Ministry (MSF) to co-develop and operate this Adult Disability Home and was announced by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

He said that this new building is timely as it is a common concern among families of people with autism regarding the availability of caregivers to older citizens. SAAC and MSF are working together to design and build the facility, which will provide long-term residential care for those lacking other options.

“Located at Sengkang, the Adult Disability Home will have the capacity to house 200 residents when it is completed in 2018,” said Dr Tan. “It will also have a co-located Day Activity Centre with a capacity for 50 adult clients.”

Finally, to end on a romantic now, Anita Lesko and Abraham Nielsen took a big step in their live on September 26—they became husband and wife. What makes their case a unique one is that not only are the bridge and groom on the autism spectrum, but their entire wedding party—from the ring bearer and flower girl to the harpist and DJ and everyone else in between).

“I feel honored to be Anita’s husband,” Nielson adds. “When I saw Anita walking down the aisle, I felt extremely overwhelmed and my heart sang. I felt like the luckiest man on the face of the earth that I have the most beautiful wife in the world, both inside and outside.” The couple married at San Diego’s Love & Autism: A Conference with a Heart that had the stated goal of proving every individual, no matter what, deserves to be loved. Truly a heartwarming story to wrap things up.