On a quiet street in Jupiter, sits a very special home in an otherwise normal, suburban neighborhood. The folks who live under this roof are not related by blood, yet they are a unique family unit. They all have something in common – autism. The structure is called Babe’s House and a number of adults with autism call this place home.
Babe’s House was purposefully designed to meet the needs of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including soundproofing materials, large open spaces, and intentionally designed areas that can be enjoyed individually. The home was spearheaded by the Autism Project of Palm Beach County (APPBC) and was funded through private donations, foundations, and a Florida Housing grant. The home was named in honor of a generous donor.
Through a partnership with the APPBC, the ARC of the Treasure Coast (formerly ARC of Martin County) manages the operations of the home, staffing it 24/7 with professionals to meet the needs of residents. Home should feel safe and this one has access security at all entry points. Each staff member has a key fob to allow entry and exit to the home. Specially placed security cameras inside and out, allow staff to view the common areas, like the Great Room, Game Room, and Kitchen, any time of the day or night to ensure a safe environment but in a less intrusive manner.
Babe’s House is equipped with hurricane windows and doors, as well as a “whole house” generator in the event of the loss of power. There is redundancy for most appliances – two washers and dryers, two microwaves, two refrigerators, and two dishwashers. There is also an extra full-standing freezer in the pantry. The Kitchen features an induction cooktop for safety. Most important is the home is energy efficient, and fully accessible and residents can live comfortably with technology that will allow them to age in place without worry.
This house is the first of its kind for ARC of the Treasure Coast in terms of technology and safety. Some of the folks who call this place home have family members who are no longer able to take care of them, due to age or health issues. The residents live here around the clock, but like most of us, they are engaged in meaningful activities in the community during the week. Some of the residents are still in school, some work in the community, and some attend a local adult day program, to help them increase their vocational and social skills.
Everyone who lives here must qualify for residential habilitation services with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Six men can live here at one time, each with their own bedroom and bathroom. Unfortunately, the waiting list to get in is long. Current and future residents are matched with other ASD housemates who will benefit from social interaction. There are three large SMART television viewing areas so residents can choose to enjoy different entertainment options with their peers.
More than 3.5 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with autism. With this home, ARC is meeting the growing demand to house adults living on the spectrum. A hi-tech home with a huge heart — designed to increase each resident’s personal independence goals in their own time and in a safe space.
The open house BBQ and ribbon cutting ceremony for Babe’s House is scheduled for Saturday, August 27th from 12noon to 3:00 pm. For more information, please contact the ARC at www.ARCMC.org.
Keith Muniz is President and CEO of the ARC of the Treasure Coast (formerly ARC of Martin County). The ARC, (Advocates for the Rights of the Challenged) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering children and adults with I/DD through residential, vocational, educational, behavioral, and other healthcare services.