Young Adults with Autism Thrive in Their New Home

Dec 28, 2015

Tamsin Kearns (left) and Gwen Fisher at the edge of the 1 acre farm on the grounds of Sweetwater Spectrum in Sonoma
Credit Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  Eight years in the making, a new living environment for young adults with autism is attracting nationwide attention to their shared homes in downtown Sonoma.

The physical environment at Sweetwater Spectrum abounds in clean lines and open spaces, forming a space that is physically comfortable for the residents and staff. Even more importantly, says co-founder and current board president Caroline Klebanoff, was the creation of a psychic and emotional environment where the resident would feel secure and able to exercise their individual independence.

This site plan details the numerous design features that make Sweetwater Spectrum a maximally sustainable complex. Click to see and read an enlarged image.

   The founders of Sweetwater Spectrum quite deliberately set out to create a new model of long-term housing for adults with autism, a place where each individual’s unique needs and preferences could be accommodated. Having done that once, says Klebanoff , they are now trying to develop a framework that can be reproduced in other places.