Re: ICs with developmentally disabled adults
From: James Kacki (
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 13:39:17 -0700 (PDT)
L'Arche communities.
This falls outside typical co-housing interpretations, but it is an interesting model to show one end of the scale re/ community living with developmentally challenged adults. That is the 'L'Arche' communities. The organization was started by Jean Vanier, a genuine humanitarian and spiritual human being. It started I believe with his experiences with specific mentally challenged adults. He concluded that the most important thing for these people to receive was love, and a home filled with love. There are now dozens (hundreds perhaps) of L'Arche communities around the world. It usually consists of a house with 3-5 mentally challenged (called residents, I believe) and an equal number of assistants, living together, full time. The assistants live at the house, everyone eats and cooks together. The residents often have jobs that they are taken to. The assistants receive no salary, but receive a living allowance. Some of the assistants that I have seen are young people who sometimes move on after several years and sometimes stay. But they all seem to be doing it with love as the prime motivator. Part of Jean Vanier's vision was that as the assistants give love to the residents, they receive an equal or greater love in return. There is probably a web-site if anyone wants to know more about these communities.

Lavinia Weissman wrote:
Please feel free to schedule a phone call with me by phone.

This is a such a broad topic and you need to really respond to people who
are "other abled" specific to their unique needs, if they are able to live

There are now programs for autistic adults to live in homes in community
and I am aware that the Town of Lexington residents organized a home for
brain injured residents who could no longer rely on their parents to live

I say you have to really think, because the term disabled or
developmentally disabled is a catch all phrase for a wide range to things
you need to think about as simple as if they can cook, shop and count
money and have jobs.

I think in cohousing we have a real opportunity in smaller communities to
uniquely respond to these dilemma's and not just hang a label with a
procedure or method.

I have worked with people who have chronic illness, children who are
epileptic and more as a coach and believe me ultimately everything depends
on getting the right health info, understanding the family support and
routine that surrounds this person and how they relate each day to life.
You learn more sometimes from them than people are willing to take the
time to learn and this in my opinion is the biggest barrier.

I ran and helped develop an educational program for an epileptic boy who
was labeled uneducable and this was not the case. He caught up to reading
level of his class and the entire school learned about who he was as a
unique person, what medical issues were at hand and how safety needs had
to be considered by faculty and kids that was not just about doing
something special.

Good luck with what you decide and do.

Lavinia Weissman
On Sat, April 14, 2007 10:13 am, Maggi wrote:

I'd like to hear from any communities (or about any communities) that
have significant interaction with developmentally disabled adults.
We currently have one member who is developmentally disabled, and the
possibility of others.  We haven't done a lot of discussing about it
as a community yet, but I anticipate lots of positive and negative
emotion around this possibility.  I'd love to hear feedback from
communities that have successfully, or not so successfully,
integrated developmentally disabled adults into their social structure.

Maggi @ Touchstone, Ann Arbor, MI (entering our 2nd year living
together, half-sold)
maggi at intranet dot org
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