Abundant Life Autism, a Christian cohousing initiative in Alberta, held a presentation for a group of approximately 20 parents at The Ability Hub on March 24th on the concept of cohousing for individuals with autism. The presentation was led by parents of an adolescent with autism who are looking to build a community of like minded families interested in joining the membership with a view to investing in the design and execution of a cohousing initiative.
The design is not considered a group home and does not offer services for individuals with autism. Families would be responsible for hiring any needed supports. The benefits of cohousing are that the design itself promotes social connection within the community that is formed, thus reducing isolation and increasing safety. Cohousing communities vary in design depending on the interests of the residents and always have self-contained units with access to shared facilities such as: kitchen, garden, laundry, and entertainment areas (depending on the needs of the residents). Spontaneous interactions and connections occur due to the building design and shared values of the community, which in turn creates an informal support network for all living there.