We have shared some heartwarming stories with you before about strangers treating people on the autism spectrum with incredible compassion. There was the waitress who went above and beyond to treat a boy with autism kindly, leaving his mother overwhelmed with emotion. Then there was the time Adele invited a 12-year-old fan with autism to sing with her onstage.
As beautiful of those stories are, the fact of the matter is that acts of kindness can only do so much. At the end of the day, the greatest gift that anyone can give to someone with special needs is empowerment and independence.
That’s why husband and wife team Clay Heighten and Debra Caudy are together constructing a $12 million community for people with autism.
Clay is a retired emergency doctor and founder of a real estate management company. Debra is a retired oncologist. The two have a 19-year-old son, Jon, who is on the severe end of the autism spectrum. Together, they’re combing their knowledge of medicine and real estate to create a community for young people with special needs, inspired by Jon.
The 29 acre community will be build on what was formerly a ranch in Cross Roads, Texas, near major lakes and state parks that will be used for therapy and recreation. According to Dallas News, the community “will include 15 homes, a community center and access to a ‘transitional academy’ that is designed to help young adults with autism develop the skills needed to live and work independently”
According to the 29 Acres website (a nonprofit raising money for the community),
The 29 acres community is a safe and dynamic housing development where adults with autism (ASD) will live and be offered enriched, evidenced-based programming that will allow them to build relationships and feel value, success and happiness in their lives.
Debra says the idea came when her son was in his early teens. His parents worried for Jon’s future, and looked for housing and employment options that would suit his needs. “We couldn’t find anything. So we decided to do it ourselves,” she explained. “We want to do it not just for him, but for many of the others out there like him. The need is enormous.”
Clay added that the community is “about offering a choice.” He says, “We’re trying to create something that would provide an enriched quality of life.”
They expect to break ground on the project this Fall.
Share these parents’ innovative vision today!
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