Earlier this month, Madison House Autism Foundation staff traveled across the US to Los Angeles to attend the FRED Conference. We visited with old friend and made new ones, garnered information and heard the phenomenal music of Soulshocka, an autistic rapper. While the conference continues to be called FRED(Farms, Ranches Educating those with Disabilities), the housing models that it encourages and supports are “Village Communities” sometimes called Intentional Communities. These residential options strive to offer different levels of support for independence, encourage friendships, offer continuing education and/or employment. The philosophy behind this conference and shared by Madison House, is that every individual with developmental disabilities deserves respect, dignity, and choice.
FRED 2013 was the perfect opportunity for exhibiting the beta version of AutismHousingNetwork.org, sponsored by Madison House, because of collaborative processes that FRED engenders. More than ever, we are convinced of the need for such a tool to keep the dialogue moving forward, and we are excited that more than 40 volunteers stepped forward to be beta testers!
Like Madison House Autism Foundation and our supporters, the folks organizing, presenting and attending FRED are painfully aware that adequate living, employment, recreational and social options are scarce. Moreover, information on transition options are confusing and hard to understand within a bureaucracy of red tape and funding loopholes. We need to work as a cohort.
The FRED conference was a call to action and brought experts, families and special needs adults together, encouraging cooperation, choice, information sharing and expediency. Each session concluded with tangible action steps. We look forward to promoting FRED’s work and using the AutismHousingNetwork.org as a way to continue the conversation and share information. Kudos to all of our friends at FRED with special thanks to Mari-Anne Kehler, Director of FRED and Rose Van Weir Hein Founder and Executive Director, Golden Heart Ranch.
Remember, when sharing materials from FRED, to give credit to the presenter and FRED conference.