First Findings Coming Soon
The Utah Project has been an exciting, statewide team effort. Multiple partners are coming together to increase inclusion for autistic adults. From housing to employment to social connection, Madison House Autism Foundation (MHAF) and Utah partners are gathering data and building solutions together. Resources for autistic adults drop off after age 21. This project is the first of its kind to address this urgent issue. The process in Utah will create a solid blueprint for other states to use across the country.
Where Are We Now?
The team is well underway with writing reports on first findings, collecting housing data, and holding meetings with local leaders. During the first year, Project Director Sumiko Martinez spent time building a solid network of partners. She also worked with partners to plan a strategy for success. During the second year, the project team collected data with partners across several sectors statewide. They surveyed and interviewed autistic adults, family members, and local leaders. They asked them about their experience with autism, gaps and barriers faced by autistic adults and their families, how inclusive their areas are, and more. “In order to build a truly inclusive state, we absolutely need the perspectives and priorities of autistic adults and their families to be centered in how our communities are set up. Adults with autism and lifespan issues have often been left out of the conversation, and this study is a key step towards the goal of neuro-inclusive communities throughout the state of Utah,” shares Martinez.
Utah Project First Findings Coming Soon
In April, MHAF and partners will be releasing the results from the data. Anyone can download the report to review. After the report is released, MHAF will work with partners to hold meetings in each region. Local leaders, community members, and self-advocates will gather together to create strategies. After communities across Utah put those strategies in place, MHAF and partners will all work together to track outcomes.
An Extra Boost for Housing
In the meantime, MHAF is working with partners to take an even closer look at housing. The current housing market for autistic adults is a national crisis. Half of autistic adults live with a family caregiver, and thousands are left on housing waitlists for years. This past year, the project team has begun a series of regional education sessions about housing and support options. Autistic adults and family members watch the session then share their preferences and needs in a survey. The most recent survey in Salt Lake Valley brought a huge response. Just under 400 people added their voices to the survey data. Local leaders and housing developers will soon be reviewing the data to identify any other gaps or barriers. Once the project team gathers data to fill those gaps, the team will be able to publish reports for housing leaders and policymakers.
The partnership on the overall Utah project has been fantastic. “The Utah autism community is so strong, and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside such dedicated people over the past couple of years. I’m truly grateful to all our partners, because we are able to accomplish so much more collectively,” reflects Martinez. It is amazing what can be achieved when we all work together. Two years in and we have already gathered powerful data. Sign up for the project newsletter to stay up to date on more details and findings from MHAF and partners on the project.
Please note that we try to respect the diversity of preferences from advocates on the autism spectrum. We therefore use identity-first language (autistic individual) and person-first language (person with autism) interchangeably. Read more about Madison House Autism Foundation and our current projects.