In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated “1 in 68 (14.6 per 1,000) school-aged children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).” What happens to all of those children when they become adults?
With the adult autistic community already estimated at around 1.5 million Americans, comprehensively answering that question is a daunting task.
Let’s start by addressing the needs right in front of us. In Birmingham, Glenwood, Inc. has been doing that for autistic community since 1974.
The non-profit organization provides “behavioral health care and educational services for individuals” with ASD. It’s more than just services; it’s about helping people live and thrive with autism.
But the demand for Glenwood’s services is high, and the organization needs our community to meet it. Thankfully, companies like Capstone Collegiate Communities (C3) are willing to help lead that effort.
Currently, C3 is raising support for and building The Hope Cottages at Glenwood. The project will construct three homes at Glenwood’s 363-acre campus to provide housing for 16 individuals indefinitely.
Research released in 2012 by Autism Speaks estimated that the costs of providing care for each person with autism affected by intellectual disability through his or her lifespan are $2.3 million. Those diagnosed with ASD who are not impacted by intellectual disability incur $1.4 million in lifetime care costs. That is the significant financial proposition facing so many families caring for someone with ASD.
It’s also why C3 is organizing the effort to build the Hope Cottages for free.
So far the project has raised over half of their $2.2 million dollar project budget. “As a company, Capstone has always looked for ways to give back to its community,” said Mike Baker, C3’s Executive Vice President for Development. “When we learned of the need at Glenwood it was a no-brainer for us, and our regular construction vendors have graciously supported the project to make it possible.”
Housing for 16 people might feel like a drop in the bucket giving the size of the national challenge, but it means the whole world for each of those future residents and their families.
For Phillip Young, that “drop” is a home for his son Xan who lives at Glenwood. “When we pick Xan up on Friday and take him to the beach for a family vacation, on Saturday morning he’s ready to come ‘home,’ to be with his friends [at Glenwood].”
We can’t let the enormity of our challenges deter us from taking critical steps–no matter how small–in the right direction. Those steps are happening right here in Birmingham. We always hear about our failures and problems as a city and state. We also need to hear about what we’re doing well. The Hope Cottages project, set to open this fall, is that kind of story.
Instead of waiting for big solutions from Washington or Montgomery that might never come, we’re doing what we can right here and right now. I’m proud to be part of that kind of community. In Alabama, we aren’t just hoping for the best; we’re tackling autism one house at a time.