After two and a half years, Walkabout House has closed down. Debbie and I have had to move on to another phase of our lives. We regret that we can no longer help young adults on the spectrum who want to strive for greater independence and self-sufficiency. We wish the best for all of our former residents, and hope that they will achieve their dreams of getting an education and/or job, and to build a social network of life-long friends.
I learned a lot from the residents and staff who lived with us at Walkabout House, and from all of the professionals in the Portland area who worked with us to support our residents. I especially want to express my deep appreciation to Barb Avila and her staff at the Synergy Autism Center who helped train me and my staff, provided consultation and guidance on creating our support programs, and contributed so much throughout this entire adventure.
I still believe in the basic concept of helping young adults on the spectrum achieve greater independence by creating a transition home for them to learn the life skills needed to be successful in this endeavor. After all, a family-like environment is where most of us develop these skills. However, it is a lot to ask of staff to live with their clients 24/7. This was the biggest challenge for Walkabout House, to find and retain staff who could make this huge commitment. I believe that there are solutions to this problem. I hope someday to re-visit this approach for helping these young adults who deserve the opportunity to pursue their life dreams just like everybody else.
I will maintain this website as a “place-holder” for the Walkabout House dream of helping young adults on the spectrum achieve greater independence. My contact information will remain available for anybody who wants to contact me in the future. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of creating a residential program like Walkabout House, please review our News page at this website.
If you or a loved one with autism is in need of support for achieving greater independence, I can recommend no one better at providing this kind of support than Barb Avila and her staff at the Synergy Autism Center. Check our her website at http://synergyautismcenter.com.
Another great program in the Portland area is Fidgetech. They are a purposeful, supportive community for young adults on the autism spectrum to learn technologies, uncover interests and talents, develop technical skills, and achieve educational, work, or personal goals. If you are interested in learning more about their programs, please visit their website at http://fidgetech.org.
I wish that I could recommend many other residential programs specifically designed to help this population achieve greater independence. There is only one that I know of, and I do highly recommend it. The Shire House is in San Jose, CA. They offer residential programs and services for young adults with high functioning Autism. You can learn more about this great program at https://shirehouse.org.
I wish to express my appreciation to all of our residents and their families, and to all of our staff and the local professionals who were a part of this endeavor. This has been a difficult but rewarding experience, and one that has left a lasting, wonderful impression on us.