One in 59 babies is born with autism each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That means more than 1 to 1.5 million American children need some type of support for life.
The good news is the growth of services and programs for infants, children and teenagers afflicted with the disorder. But resources have not caught up for adults.
When an individual turns 22, few programs are geared for someone with the unique needs of those on the autism spectrum. In most states, government funding is not mandated as it is for children and adolescents. But progress is being made in many states with more individualized funding and self-determination. These policies allow individuals and their families to craft a lifestyle where they can become active members of a community.
Since government funding for services is limited, families are finding ways to create a stable independent lifestyle for their loved ones with disabilities. Those individuals, often considered too high functioning to qualify for direct care funding, need to live in a structured, supportive environment. This patchwork type of funding — a combination of public and private dollars, can create the necessary foundation for a young adult to move away from their aging parents and thrive in the community.
The Katydid Foundation Inc., launched in 2004 by the mother of a young woman with autism, has made that transition easier for many individuals and their families. It is a unique, self-directed program supported by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, grants and donations.
The foundation, which operates a home in Haverhill, Mass., is raising money to sustain the property which is home to three adults on the autism spectrum and live-in caretakers. Donations provide repairs, upgrades and many of the extras not covered by rent capped at affordable housing limits.
As an affordable housing project, Katydid provides seven individual units with common areas. The first floor is handicapped-accessible. The second level offers a separate area for live-in staff. The well-established residential neighborhood is close to public transportation, parks, beaches and shopping.
Thanks to grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank, Haverhill Bank, the North Shore HOME Consortium and the City of Haverhill in 2010, the foundation is the owner and property manager. The house was completely renovated and designed to meet the diverse needs of residents on the autism spectrum. But the uniqueness of the program is that services are selected by the residents and/or their guardians. These services may be funded from a variety of sources depending on the need and eligibility.
We believe families who raised a handicapped child, can accomplish almost anything. The Katydid Foundation is committed to help us stand together in our search for choices for our loved ones with autism. Please visit our Facebook page to learn about other housing accomplishments launched by parents. If you would like to contribute to our Facebook page, please contact us with questions or comments. We also plan to post photos and information about other parent-sponsored housing projects.
Katydid Foundation Inc. Board of Directors
|Anita L. Perkins, founder and president
A longtime newspaper reporter, Anita heads up the foundation and works as a family advocate. She continues to write, photograph and design publications as a freelancer, and leads parent workshops on adult housing.
| M. Brenda Smith, treasurer and director
Brenda, a veteran business writer, editor and teacher, edits all Katydid Foundation materials.
|Kelly T. Perkins, director
Kelly, who owns Echo Ridge Farm, a horse farm in Lee, N.H., also works in commercial construction. She is the daughter of Katydid’s founder.
|Buddy Bostick, vice-president and director
Buddy served nearly 3 years as the Chief Program Officer at The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport. Prior to the Arc, Buddy worked 22 years at The Department of Developmental Services in the following positions: Residential Supervisor, Psychologist Aide, QMRP, and Service Coordinator.
|Alison Levins, director
Principal of Housing Resources, Alison, has significant experience in affordable housing and property management. Alison works extensively with tax credit syndicators, management agents, and state housing finance agencies, with a specialty in Low Income Housing Compliance, HOME funds, Section 8 and regulatory compliance.
|Joyce Kramer, director
Joyce, a parent of adult child with disabilities, has a degree in social work and is the former facilities manager for Katydid.
|Denisha Alix, director
Denisha grew up around the Katydid Foundation…both her mom and aunt worked as caretakers at the Haverhill house. She is now a business major at Southern New Hampshire University and Store Training Manager at Claire’s retail store, and supports one of the Katydid residents as a “support broker.” As a member of the residents’ council, Denisha represents Katydid tenants on the Board.
Jennifer Hills, secretary and director
A licensed mental health counselor at Family Counseling Associates in Danvers, Mass., Jennifer brings more than 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults. She has worked in various settings including community mental health, early intervention, domestic violence and substance abuse.