AS INTERVIEW 1

Desiree’s Q&A with Amy Sequenzia, Autistic Self-Advocate and Poet

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As the conversation develops on the Autism Housing Network, it is imperative that we highlight  the voices of autistic adults and others with developmental disabilities. I thought a good way to start off my month of site visits and interviews would be to ask one of my favorite bloggers some questions about her experience in housing and continued support. The following is a Q&A with Amy Sequenzia, autistic self-advocate and poet:

 

  1.  Q: Please explain a little bit about your current living arrangement and supports. 

    A: I received HCBS (Medwaiver) funding, which in Florida is not necessarily good. The state does not provide enough community support or allows us real choices. But I am lucky that I have friends who are my life sharing partners. They own a house but it is OUR home. The funding I receive pays for my expenses and my share as a roommate. They support me with all I need. They make sure I can have the life I aspire to and they are happy doing what they do, because that’s what they want for their lives. It is a perfect situation. They respect my choices and goals and I have a pretty good life.Every time the government cuts funding, we have to make adjustments because the other option I would have is living in a group home and doing whatever the staff says, and without any access to my method of communication.Our home is available for more roommates but, again, the state of Florida has rules that make everything very difficult to be accomplished.

  2.  Q: What has been the biggest barrier/s to finding your home?

    A: Because my friends and I had already decided about our goals, this part was easy. We had done life sharing at another state and the model was the same. Dealing with state agencies and funding is the hard part because, in the case of Florida, they are not open to new initiatives if a person receives HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) funding. Again, my friends are dedicated and they make sure I can have my own choices.Some states – and some people – have a very healthy approach to the idea.

  3.  Q: What were the most important elements when choosing your support service provider and/or staff? Did you have many options? 

    A:My friends and I met a long time ago, and we had the life sharing experience, so it was easy to decide which supports I would need. Options are hard to find where I currently live and we have to be creative and make things happen in a way that I can at least try to accomplish my goals.

  4. Q: Many parents fear that there are not enough options and availability of funding for the future support needs of their son/daughter. In response, they have started to create self-sustainable (through microenterprise) and private-pay (for those who have the financial capacity to do so) intentionally planned communities, similar to CoHousing or Eco-Villages. Some are neurodiverse, and others only provide residential options to those on the spectrum or I/DD. There has been criticism by some that these communities are segregating. In your opinion, what makes a person feel ‘segregated’? What advice and/or suggestions would you like to give to these parents? 

    A: When options are not many, it becomes tempting to settle for less. One of my concerns is that, in the name of safety, closed communities might become unsafe, unseen. I went to a segregated boarding “special” school and I can say that abuse and cover up do happen.The idea of sharing a house, making it a home, is a good one. It does not have to be in a closed community. It can mean several houses spread throughout the town or city or county. Besides, non-disabled people will only be educated if we are living among them. Acceptance. Belonging.

  5.  Q: Do you have any advice for young autistic adults who are transitioning to life on their own?

    A:  Know your rights and fight for them. Even if you need help, even if you need a lot of help…this is not what defines your worth. You are worthy and valued and as an adult things might seem harder. Sometimes they are. But if you know your rights, you can fight to have the supports you need. Maybe you want to join a self-advocacy group, or create your own activism group. There are lots of very active autistic advocates who are ready to embrace any Autistic who is a proud one.

 

Amy Sequenzia blogs regularly for Ollibean and the Autism Women’s Network. Her writing from the perspective of a non-vocal autistic adult is important to read and understand.

 

More information about life sharing:

Intentional Community: http://www.cadmuslife.org/

Article/Story: http://www.oclinc.org/life_sharing/life_sharing.htm

Service Provider: http://www.skillsofcentralpa.org/public/services/lifesharing.php

Service Provider: http://www.developmentalprogramsphilly.org/life-sharing-through-family-living.php

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1 Comment

  1. fifir
    fifir02-11-2015

    This HCBS is a HUGE SCAM in California. Many people don’t realize that just because the HCBS OFFERS services doesn’t mean California 21 Regional Centers actually PROVIDE or even OFFER these services on their POS (purchase of service guidelines approved by Department of Developmental Services in Sacramento). There are 1000s of autistic and otherwise disabled people who are on these waivers that require services that do NOT match was is required to meet the HCBS waiver requirements, yet all the California regional centers are having their vendors sign HCBS waiver forms that suggest the people being served are meeting these requirements….a HUGE SCAM on the federal government…Also, many people whom the california regional centers are listing qualify for these HCBS services are NOT getting what the HCBS says they should get to stay out of institutions and out of home placements…however California’s DHSC has NOBODY smart enough to investigate this….who the heck is assigned to these HSBS “audits”???????? Obviously not people who have a damn clue what to look for what to ask for..and they are being conned or compromised by the California Regional Centers to keep the federal money flowing….what a total SCAM and lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For example in California there is a very unique system which is called California Regional Centers. There are 21 Regional Centers across California. Each regional center has a purchase of guidelines that is approved by California’s Dept. Of Developmental Services and yet some of the regional centers do not provide what is listed on the FEDERAL HCBS waiver, thereby conning families and others as to what they actually provide in order to justify getting federal funds….For instance, there are regional centers clients who require skilled nursing, an HCBS waiver service, but the California Regional Centers don’t all provide this, even though they SUBMIT to the federal government they have clients that need this service to justify the funding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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