Finding Appropriates Homes for Young Adult Children with Special Needs

NDFYA Staff

Your adult child is ready to be independent. Great!

Before you or your young adult signs a lease, though, be sure that the new home is one that fits with his or her special needs. According to the ebook Making Homes that Work, “the home that works gives a person control over his or her own life: it has the things that people need, and it is a good place to do the things they enjoy.”

Choosing a Home with Support

Without the necessary support system in place, you may find your young adult backsliding into old habits. This means finding landlords and neighbors who understand and accept your young adult’s special needs.

Your young adult’s newfound independence could be negatively affected by what Autism Speaks calls NIMBYism. This refers to the idea of “not in my backyard” that some neighbors may have toward the idea of a person with special needs living in their area. Autism Speaks uses this term in reference to group homes, but this may be something you encounter even if your child is the only person, or only person with special needs, living in the building.

Where to Find Housing

There are a number of websites and local resources to consult if you are helping your young adult in the search for a new home. Here two to get you started:

Sometimes the best resource, though, it to speak to:

  • Other parents
  • Young adults who are now successfully independent
  • Therapists and others who work with young adults such as your child
  • Others involved in the helping the special needs community

People in your community with experience in what you’re working through are able to steer you towards the best housing options. They’ll know which areas are open to residents with special needs and which to avoid. They can also help you decide whether or not your child needs some kind of assistance (even if it’s just a staff that stops by to check in once or twice a week).

Use Your Network

Many parents are beginning to band together to develop appropriate housing for their adult children, according to writer Beth Arkey.

For example, some parents have purchased an additional home for their child, then are renting out the other rooms in the house to other young adults to special needs. This type of scenario allows your child to share resources with another, such as staff, if necessary, and gives your child a support system at home.

While many are turning to these types of ideas for shared housing, some are proposing self-contained campuses or communes, such as Sweetwater Spectrum in California. Arkey found that others, however, worry that such campuses are actually less helpful to the residents over time.

Resources to Consider

There are a number of resources on the Internet for parents of children with special needs. Here are a couple you may find especially helpful.

Making Homes that Work by George Braddock and John Rowell

Though much of this ebook is dedicated to modifying your own home to meet the needs of your child, you can use the information given to help your young adult select an appropriate home.

Housing and Residential Supports Took Kit by Autism Speaks

This ebook contains a lot of data about the state of housing for people with special needs in the US, plus items such as a list of questions to ask yourself or your child about what qualities a home must have for a comfortable life, and where you can find funding, if needed.

Take the Time to Research

By spending some time contacting your network, learning from agencies and organizations, and reading blog posts and other online or printed resources, you’ll be well-equipped to help your child make the best decision regarding their living situation. And you’ll find peace of mind knowing they have the support system in place to thrive without leaning on you.

CTA: Prepare your young adult for independence with life management skills