DENNIS – With 1 in 68 people diagnosed with Autism, most people know someone on this vast spectrum. That’s why a group of Dennis residents, led by John and Kathy Ohman have formed a nonprofit to construct a group home for adults with autism.
The nonprofit is called FORWARD, an acronym that stands for Friends Or Relatives With Autism And Related Disabilities.
Two of the Ohmans three sons have autism and they see first hand the need for a place for people with autism to live independently. The idea was embraced by town officials who have found a town-owned parcel suitable for the housing, 4.9 acres of town-owned land off Hokum Rock Road.
The town has issued a request for proposals targeted toward the FORWARD project to seek bids for the site.
The Ohmans explain that this idea is to establish a fully supervised, “independent” living situation for young adults who have aged out of Special Needs education and supports.
F.O.R.W.A.R.D. has been established as a 501 (C) (3) non-profit to envision and develop a residential housing project to fit the needs of a unique, well-loved group of individuals, Kathy Ohman said.
The mission of F.O.R.W.A.R.D., she explained, is to provide a small-scale model housing community where people with Autism and related disabilities will prosper in a safe, supportive environment.
The goal is to build four homes with four bedrooms each, to house 16 individuals, with an additional central “Common Room” available to residents, families, friends and community groups.
They envision an environment where people with challenging communication skills feel comfortable in a shared living situation with 24/7 supervision: preparing meals or participating in a group activity in the Common Room, for example.
One in 68 children diagnosed on the Autism translates to approximately 98,000 people on the spectrum in Massachusetts alone.
Listen below to John and Kathy Ohman discussing their nonprofit FORWARD: