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Are farms designed for Autistic People to Live and Work a Good Idea?
Yes. 64%  64%  [ 14 ]
No. 9%  9%  [ 2 ]
Other: (please post comment) 27%  27%  [ 6 ]
Total votes : 22

aghogday
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05 Aug 2011, 11:12 pm

I came across this link in another thread, and couldn't help but to get a little excited about it in light of so much of the conversation on this website, in regard to the problems Autistic Adults face in finding jobs and adapting to Society as it stands.

It's the first time I have seen a private initiative like this for Autistic people, that might solve some of the future problems Autistic people moving out of school into the mainstream world face, that lose the support that they had in their family home and school environment.

It is a non-profit foundation run by people that have autistic people in their family that is supporting the development of farms across the United States where Autistic people can work and live interdependently, depending on their needs.

Aspie48 mentioned an interest in Agriculture earlier; I'm wondering if this is a welcome scenario for a way of life for young autistic people that are going to need opportunities for affordable living and an opportunity to work among other people that have Autism.

It's not glamorous work, but our ancestors did it for centuries. It would also be an opportunity, I think, to help others that are more challenged with Autism. It's also an opportunity to escape some of the discomforts that some may find in society.

For some that might face the prospect of living in a residential care facility with little prospect for employment, this might bring a greater sense of peace of mind.

In context of the solutions that some are seeking to make their way in life, do you think this kind of initiative is a good idea?

http://www.sagecrossingfoundation.org/index.shtml

Some other links to Autistic Farm Communities, World Wide

http://www.autismnet.net/communities.html



Last edited by aghogday on 05 Aug 2011, 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sweetleaf
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05 Aug 2011, 11:36 pm

It sounds kind of good, though I do not know if my lifestyle would comply to whatever rules would exist at such places.



MagicMeerkat
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05 Aug 2011, 11:53 pm

I don't know. I selected "other" because it just seems like cheap labor. Why can't we be hired for our actual skills instead of the jobs no one else wants? Imagrants and illegals take jobs like this because no one wants those jobs. Why can't we be hired for computer and repair related jobs instead of a job no one wants?


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aghogday
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06 Aug 2011, 12:25 am

MagicMeerkat wrote:
I don't know. I selected "other" because it just seems like cheap labor. Why can't we be hired for our actual skills instead of the jobs no one else wants? Imagrants and illegals take jobs like this because no one wants those jobs. Why can't we be hired for computer and repair related jobs instead of a job no one wants?


I think a relatively small percentage of Autistic people will be suited to this type of life and work. It's a community based idea for autistic people that need a great deal of assistance to live, along with those that don't need as much assistance. I haven't seen the details of what it would cost to live there; some of the other farmstead communities require medicaid support, which means one would have to be considered permanently disabled to live there.

The opportunity provided here is not only farm work, but to provide assistance to others that are more challenged with the debilitating symptoms of autism.

The problem is close to 400,000 adults with Autism, that do need constant care and support will be arriving in the next decade as people currently diagnosed leave the school environment. The United States doesn't have the assisted housing availabilities that will be required to meet the needs of all these autistic people.

These farmsteads normally only accommodate numbers of up to around 50 residents, so they will likely only meet a small percentage of the needs of autistic adults that need a great deal of assistance and support to live, in the coming decades.

I think it's a great idea if others can support communities and job opportunities that meet the needs and abilities of other people with Autism as you mention. At this point I'm not aware of any other Co-Op opportunities like this that meet that need, but maybe someone in the private world will become motivated to initiate that in the future.

It takes alot of money and effort, but there are some out there with very deep pockets that might get involved in the effort in the future.



Woodpecker
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06 Aug 2011, 3:05 am

Not all aspies are into computers, I grew up before PCs existed and the skills I learnt as a youth relate to other things.

There is a problem with farming, a lot of modern farming is not labour intensive, I think it depends on what plants you are growing or animals you are raising on the land. If you want to create lots of work for aspies you will need to find something which requires a lot of humans to tend it rather than either a few humans or a machine.


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BTDT
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06 Aug 2011, 7:47 am

Yes, there are a lot of jobs helping NTs with computers--lots of NTs would love to have folks come of and work on their computers, so they work just the way they want them to, rather the way some focus group or committee decided they should. But, I think that there is an expectation that these folks have excellent communication skills, and can figure out what clueless people are saying.

Even companies that make expensive audiophile equipment no longer repair their stuff--it is cheaper to just replace it! It costs money to make stuff repairable--it you can cut costs by 25% and just give new units to the 2% that fail in the field, you come out way ahead on the bottom line. The economics of repair gets worse when you talk about a product that is constantly evolving--the old technology falls way short in performance, so it is harder to justify repair.

A major benefit to manual labor and farms is that people can identify or spot what you have never seen before--are the plants growing funny or is there a new bug on the plants? Aspies excel at spotting something different.



momsparky
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06 Aug 2011, 9:02 am

Wouldn't the neurotypes they are hoping to help typically have very serious sensory issues? I would think that a farm would be an excruciating place for someone sensitive to textures, smells and sounds.

I can see where some of the work might be straightforward and might be easy to explain for people who are cognitively impaired, but I don't really see how it fits for people who are socially impaired. I think people sometimes have a bucolic view of farming that isn't very accurate, and make blanket assumptions about people with disabilities, and these programs tend to require even more supervision and support than a regular jobs program. I'm all for any program that allows, well, anybody to be able to work and live as independently as possible, but I think each program needs to be tailored to the individual and not the other way around.

We have a local "farm," which is really an amusement park, pet store, and petting zoo that supports people with developmental disabilities - mostly Downs I think. The program participants work with the animals, maintain the facility, make crafts and foods that are sold in the store, and work in the restaurant, and in theory go on to use the skills they learned in the workforce - but most of those skills involve back-of-house retail support, not real farming and only a little work with the animals - there is NT staff who do the lion's share of the customer service and animal husbandry as well as social workers who work with the participants. Doesn't seem like a very efficient model from any perspective.



Ettina
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06 Aug 2011, 10:31 am

It depends enirely on how it's run.

No matter how it's dressed up, a place that people are forced to live in and have staff deciding everything for them is an institution - doesn't matter if it's a farm, a series of distibuted homes, or a big ugly hospital building. And the same problems apply. About the only factor that makes a difference is underfunded versus well-funded - underfunded tends more towards neglect while well-funded tends more towards abuse.

Similarly, if it's run well, with the individuals encouraged to express their wishes however they communicate, with people helping them who understand and believe in disability rights, and welcoming of 'helpers' who also have disabilities, then it doesn't really matter if it's a farm or any other setting.

It's not about appearances. It's not about location. It's not about what activities they have for the residents. It's about their attitude. It's about how they react to self-advocacy, how rigid the divide is between 'helper' and 'helpee', how much the staff can exert their power when the resident wants something different.



momsparky
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06 Aug 2011, 11:04 am

Ettina wrote:
It depends enirely on how it's run.....Similarly, if it's run well, with the individuals encouraged to express their wishes however they communicate, with people helping them who understand and believe in disability rights, and welcoming of 'helpers' who also have disabilities, then it doesn't really matter if it's a farm or any other setting.

It's not about appearances. It's not about location. It's not about what activities they have for the residents. It's about their attitude. It's about how they react to self-advocacy, how rigid the divide is between 'helper' and 'helpee', how much the staff can exert their power when the resident wants something different.


I agree. What's more - if we're going to spend money on making sure an institution is well-run, I'd tend towards more money going directly to that end, and less money going to supporting an incidental program - meaning, at our local organization (no idea how well it achieves what is described above, it seems to have a good reputation) I'd rather see fewer non-participants taking care of the grounds, equipment, animal husbandry, customer service, etc. and more staff directly involved with meeting the needs of the participants.



aspie48
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06 Aug 2011, 11:36 am

sounds like a great idea i will to look into this.



ci
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06 Aug 2011, 11:52 am

This is an awesome idea. I have heard of this before.


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emtyeye
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10 Aug 2011, 3:17 pm

I have a very small farm - a micro-farm - and sell vegetables, eggs and chickens at a couple of local farmers markets in the summers. Since I discovered I'm an Aspie, I have often thought this might be a good type of work for Aspies and Auties in gerneral.

Small, organic farms are very labor intensive, the work requires a routine that is the same in many ways each day, although the tasks change over the season. One can be quite a slob in dress while at work - nice cloths don't work well at all. Growing food is practical, which I think would appeal to many with AS.

Selling at farmers markets also gives me a perfect way to fit into the community. People like good food and appreciate those who grown it. People understand if you are dressed in comfy, non-fashion statement dress (as long as you look tidy and clean), and the interactions with customers are short, friendly (they don't come to buy your stuff unless they want it) and to the point. Not much chit-chat at all!

Growing food like this does not take much land. We (I do this with a friend) have only 10,000 square feet of garden space (that's about 1/4 acre) with a 160 sq. ft. homemade greenhouse. We only cultivate about half of that space in the garden each year, and last year we sold over $10,000 in produce, most between May and Septmeber. Our best year we sold over $20,000. And no, we do not grow or sell marijuana.

If I could get a grip on my executive disfunction, I might even be able to become moderately well off!



ci
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10 Aug 2011, 6:18 pm

The Autism Candles project started at a local farmers market.


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Inventor
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10 Aug 2011, 7:16 pm

I think both can work together.

I looked into U-Pick farms a while back, most were sold out before being planted.

More dollars and work at farmers markets, fresh today sells.

As a rural base for computer support, who else is going to drive that far?

Also, I am cheap, so are most rural families, so a roadside stand with tomatos, peppers, and rebuilt Pentium 4s loaded with XP Pro will sell. Picking through the used computer market, having used parts and knowhow, supports the whole area, those things called neighbors.

Farming is not a mindless task, it is a science, which most have forgotten. Advice from the Feed and Seed, is buy what they are selling, and the Dept of Ag promotes spraying everything. What works on 500 acres does not on ten. There you go Amish, manure, cover crops, soil building, well spaced plants, and you get Organic AAA+ production.

Bugs and molds start on one plant, pay attention and get them before they spread. No need to treat a whole field when a cup of gas and a match can solve the spot problem.

Chickens are a great garbage disposal unit.

Food production covers overhead, reduces costs, and many other projects can ride for free.

No need to see it as isolation, it is a base for Marketing.

Also, most places, no or little building codes on farm buildings, and a truck load of used building materials can turn into a pottery, mechanics shop, making for use and for income.

The economics of a village work, and the people from hundreds of years ago made it work, and they were not educated, did not excel at social function, but the did have a clear common cause.

There is nothing wrong with autistic owners, forming their own government, and hiring outside experts as needed. Staff that can be fired by the inmates, are in a different position from those hired by the State.

With a baseline of Human Rights, those with more needs can have them, and those with more skills can use them. Both add value.

It also opens the non specialist jobs to the inmate owners, laundry, cooking, which add a lot of costs to most residential care.

If the organization becomes wealthy, non liquid shares still can have a value, so anyone wanting to leave can cash out. Working for the group enlarges the value of the private ownership shares.

It could be structured so those with the funds can buy a share, those without, Disability Support, can buy on time payments, and those who produce more can trade a share, and a thousand hours, toward a Diamond Share.

The structure of Group Homes and such comes with funding for staff, above the per person disability payments.

A qualified Psychologist may be autistic, have the Degree, the professional qualifications, and should make $40,000 a year, but is very unlikely to be hired anywhere else. Staff positions can be filled.

The issue is developing models for the hundreds of thousands that will follow.

We must help the general population help us.



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10 Aug 2011, 9:46 pm

I've wondered how creating small businesses that run on a social contract would work. Basic labor laws would have to be enforced and taxes would have to be paid, but other than that they would have a lot of discretion how to run it. I think it would be worth creating legislation to try it on a limited, temporary basis. They would never stand much chance of getting very big though unless a communal culture and a compound for communal living was established, but even then it would never be able to compete with say, Boeing, GE, or Proctor and Gamble.


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10 Aug 2011, 10:37 pm

Could be good for some people, but personally while I like gardening - farms really aren;t my thing.


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