Currently there is a severe shortage of affordable and low end rental housing in our community.  We will need a location that is quiet and has a minimum of sensory stimuli that could be problematic for our autistic community members.  It is desirable to have outdoor spaces like a cottage court as many of our retirement agers have lived in the country on farms life long and an apartment building living space  just won’t work for them.  A community center is needed  to nurture activity, neurodiversity understanding and volunteering is essential to achieving the community culture that will support the best health and greatest independence of all community members.

Community Fabric

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 How will the community members benefit from one another?

One structure that can be useful is a “Microboard.”  This is the brainchild of David and Faye Weatherow of Canada.  A Microboard is a nonprofit organization that serves one person with a disability in a person centered philosophy.  The person served is a member of the board and the Microboard ultimately helps advocate for and manage the resources for supporting the individual.  This also offers opportunities for our retirees to do tremendous good with a small commitment.

Most autistic people benefit from people who understand and accept their sensory sensitivities, communication differences, and the unique way in which they may socialize that may seem foreign at first to a neurotypical person.  These differences can be impediments to new friendships and meaningful lives.  In a community where neurodiversity is understood and appreciated, barriers are removed.

Some autistic adults have good jobs and are financially independent.  Many, however, are unemployed or under employed and living on Social Security.  Families are struggling to find a place for their loved ones to live that is safe and appropriately supported and yet affordable.  Many autistic people can’t function in a group home setting because of the sensory sensitivities  and other aspects of autism.  There is no “one size fits all” solution.  There is a clear need for one choice to have affordable housing with community members supplying their own supports.  With affordable adapted housing surrounded by an understanding neighborhood a new life of independence can be planted and nurtured.

What kind of support is valuable? Having a community and friends that can help navigate confusing social situations and advocate for our autistic adults can resolve issues before they become crises..  Self-advocacy capabilities can be weak or absent in many with autism, making them particularly vulnerable to severe consequences.

There are multiple support models beginning with family, then “natural supports” (neighbors and friends), agency support, Self Directed support as well as hybrids of any or all of the options.  Each autistic adult is different, necessitating thinking outside the box to create what supports each individual needs to live a fulfilling life.

Parents worry, “What will happen when we aren’t there to advocate for our loved ones?”  Living in a neighborhood where autism is understood and their loved one has an ongoing neighborhood where they belong is a great beginning for that chapter of life.

Transformation of our Retirement Age Opportunities

People who live the longest healthiest lives live in communities where they are valued and have purpose.  Dan Buettner studied these people and found common qualities among them and has written about them in his “Blue Zones” publications.

Most recent studies support that the single most important factor in a healthy longer life is relationships.  We need to transform “Aging in Place” to “ Aging in Community.”  Many retirees like to learn something new, do meaningful things, and to do them on their terms.  What if these opportunities where right out the front door?  What if one routinely walked to the community center?  In a community where understanding and relationships are valued and nurtured our retirees can invent new lives in a chapter of life that currently is undervalued.

What if we can alleviate isolation, loneliness, boredom and depression in our aging population?

Over 10% of our local populations over 65 years old are living in poverty.  What if we could create some affordable housing for them in the community?  What if we could address food insecurity?  What if we could decrease risks for dementia?

Retirees are a gold mine of life experience, skills, desire to do good, and the time to do it.  Many of the deepest friendships are made by working together.  Our retirees can make new friends, find opportunities to use their skills for good, and enjoy the satisfaction of living a purposeful life on their terms.

Our educational vision

Healthy Aging

Of course healthy aging is more than volunteering and making new friends.  We hope to have education about diet, exercise and be a catalyst for activities like walking groups and community involvement like microboards and interest groups.  We could work together with existing organizations for up to date teaching from The Marshfield Clinic and The MCHS YMCA.


We will have education about autism and acceptance.  Autism is very different from neurotypical and it is important to appreciate the communication differences for each individual to avoid misinterpretations and the resulting misunderstandings.


Microboards have a lot of potential to benefit both the retirees and the autistic adults.  Working together encourages knowing one another better and becomes a great social circle for those involved.  Having education about microboards and ways to facilitate creation of microboards could be a big benefit to both populations.