Group offering Red Bank Apartment Complex for Autistic Adults

A New Jersey-based nonprofit aims to create an apartment complex in Monmouth County specifically for people with autism spectrum disorders.

An unprecedented study by Parents with a plan, based in Morris County, found that 73% of “neuro-diverse” adults in New Jersey currently live with an aging family. Tens of thousands of people have carers over the age of 60, according to their survey conducted between March and August this year.

“It’s amazing when you think about it, what happens after that?” said Karen Fluharty, founder of Parents With A Plan.

Fluharty’s 20-year-old son, Ryan, has autism and is currently enrolled in a transition program in Arizona that teaches life skills and promotes independent living.

“I quickly realized that the offerings for our neuro-diverse population are really slim,” Fluharty said. “How do we keep them from going to the couch at 21?”

According to the group, more than 200,000 people in New Jersey have intellectual/developmental disabilities. In the non-profit organisation’s survey, around 75% of respondents said they fear loneliness and isolation in the future. The main concern of people seeking an independent living situation was to find help in connecting with people and places.

“If we don’t develop the skills for independent living now, these people are at risk of becoming homeless and simply having an inability to connect with existing services that can help them,” Fluharty said.

Parents With A Plan owns land in Red Bank that it hopes to develop into a 32-unit supportive apartment building. The next step in the process is to present the plan to borough officials for any potential zoning ordinance.

Apartment Complex Project at Red Bank (Parents With A Plan)

Apartment Complex Project at Red Bank (Parents With A Plan)

The proposed building’s “hardware and software” would cater to the neuro-diverse population, Fluharty said. The complex would serve as a springboard to independent living.

Apartments would be hardwired with low-voltage lighting, bathrooms would have floor drains to prevent flooding, and stoves would have an automatic shut-off feature, Fluharty said.

The entire first floor of the building would be dedicated to facilities such as an educational kitchen, a health and wellness area and a 24-hour reception.

Fluharty said his organization is working with the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services on the proposed project. Among its many roles, the center would monitor the progress of residents.

“Our goal is to create a scalable model,” Fluharty said.

Dino Flamma is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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