On November 8, the Greengard Center for Autism, a New Hampshire-based nonprofit, broke ground for an adult residence home for people with autism.
Dr. Barbara Frankel, the Greengard Center’s executive director, said the project has been seven years in the making. According to a report this month by US News.com, Frankel said the new home will be directly across the parking lot from the Center, so that its five residents only need to walk across the lot to get to the center.
Frankel established the Greengard Center in 2011, when her son Elliott, who has autism, graduated from high school only to find there were no services available for him.
“Every parent who has a child with autism of greater need worries about what will happen when that child becomes an adult with autism," Frankel said. "We worry about how we will manage as we get older and we worry about who will be there when we are gone. We worry what comes next. The Greengard Center Residence is an answer to that question."
The groundbreaking also featured congratulatory remarks from New Hampshire first lady Valerie Sununu, and assistant mayor Cliff Lazenby. The target date for occupancy at the residence home is July 2020.
Frankel said she had young adults like Elliott in mind when she created the residence home.
“The age of 21 is usually a launch time for young people, a time they move out into the world,” she said. “That was not going to happen with Elliott. I wanted to create a place for independent living for people like Elliott. He is about to be 30 and there are not a lot of options for adults with autism."
Elliott will be one of the residents in the home, where two other spots have already been filled. Each room will include a bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom, with staff on hand to assist 24 hours a day.
“When I had Elliott, there was such stigma surrounding autism," Frankel said. "We always found help in Portsmouth and this is truly our home. We get the confidence we need here to keep moving forward. We know this is the place we are meant to be."