These Parents Spent 17 Years Building a Safe Neighborhood for Their Growing Autistic Children

Many kids with autism are provided with a great deal of support through their school systems and communities while they’re growing up, but what happens to these people when they become adults? Parents in Knoxville, Tennessee, have attempted to answer that question in the most positive way by building what they term as a “Utopia” for adults with autism.

The organization Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville has started to build an entire neighborhood designed just for adults with autism. Among the services available in the neighborhood are personal assistance and job skills training.


The autism-oriented neighborhood consists of seven homes on the same street. In addition, Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville has just finished constructing an apartment building where adults with autism can live, and the organization also supports another six group homes throughout Knoxville. Adults with autism are able to live in the neighborhood independently from their parents.

However, it was those parents who first envisioned the revolutionary neighborhood. Aware that they needed to provide for the futures of their children with autism who were growing up, a group of parents banded together 17 years ago to think about the best possible solution. The safe neighborhood in South Knoxville was the result.

Transportation, 24-hour support, recreation, and employment are all on hand for the residents of the neighborhood, who live in a community setting with roommates. Each house has a house manager to help where needed. All staff members are fully trained and appropriately licensed, and separate staff living quarters are available.

Although the federal government mandates services for children with autism through the educational system, those services cut off abruptly as soon as a child turns 22. Parents who have kids with autism are increasingly concerned about what might happen to their kids as they themselves age. Take a look at the difficulties adults with autism face once they lose this safety net.

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