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Housing for Developmentally Disabled Adults — Think Tiny

Tiny houses may solve a big problem for adults with developmental disabilities: A home of their own.

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A Katrina cottage is being considered for disabled housing

A small cottage like this one could be perfect for a disabled adult to live in. Image: IWPR Group, LLC

We’re fascinated with tiny houses, those 85- to 500-sq.-ft. mini-homes that make great granny pods, teen rooms, and cozy places for the couple that has (almost) nothing.

But it occurred to me that tiny houses also might be perfect for some developmentally disabled adults who crave a home of their own, but also need supervision from parents or caregivers.

I ran the idea past my cousin Karen Kaye-Beall, executive director of the Foundation for Autism Support and Training, and the mother of two adult children with autism — Amelia, 21; and Tyler, 18.

Karen Kaye-Beall

Credit: Karen Kaye-Beall

For the last 20 years, my cousin has worried about where and how Amelia and Tyler will live when they are adults, especially after Karen and her husband, Tom, are no longer able to care for them.

“It’s always in a parent’s mind,” she says. “How will they be independent? How will they live?“

Tiny houses may be an answer. Here’s why:

People with autism rely on predictable routines and environments to navigate life. Tiny homes provide a place for everything, and everything in its place, a big part of the life skills training that Amelia and Tyler received growing up.

Many people with autism have issues with sound — sounds they make that disturb others, and sounds others make that disturb them. A detached tiny home eliminates the adjacent walls with scant soundproofing, affording everyone some quiet.

Many people with autism are not able to hold jobs, and Social Security benefits are not enough to pay for decent rentals in nice neighborhoods, Kaye-Beall says. Tiny homes, which typically sell for between $25,000 and $70,000, are economical alternatives.

Tiny homes can give some people with developmental disabilities a “charming” place to call home, Kaye-Beall says. “This is my house — with little windows and shutters and a tiny front porch. It’s my home. People with disabilities want that, too.”

If the idea appeals to you, check out these pictures of a variety of tiny homes.

lisa-kaplan-gordon Lisa Kaplan Gordon

is an avid gardener, a member of the Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association, and a builder of luxury homes in McLean, Va. She’s been a Homes editor for Gannett News Service and has reviewed home improvement products for AOL. Follow Lisa on Google+.

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