Parents of autistic adults forced to build their own hostel

Lack of space in gov't hostels has forced a group of parents to raise more than NIS 10 m. to build a TA residential center for their children.

May 27, 2011 05:36
3 minute read.

Lack of space in government hostels has forced a group of parents with autistic adult children to raise more than NIS 10 million to build a residential center for their children in Tel Aviv, according to the Alut: The Israeli Society for Autistic Children.

On Thursday night, the parents, who were also involved in designing the facility, laid the cornerstone of the new building, which is in the Bavli neighborhood of north Tel Aviv. The land was provided by the municipality and two large donations from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and the Rashi Foundation enabled the project to go ahead.

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“Currently there are about 200 families that are waiting for a place to open up in a permanent hostel for their adult child,” Margalit Reins, the director of the Adult Department in Alut, told The Jerusalem Post.

She added that the non-profit organization had even appointed a full-time person to deal with the growing number of families that are seeking places in government-sponsored hostels for their adult children.

“Like every adult, there comes a time that grown-up children with autism need to get out of the family home. Taking care of an adult with autism is very difficult for the family; they can sometimes become violent and they need 24-hours supervision, which puts a strain on the family,” Reins said.

“Some families are breaking down and they place their children in a hostel before they even turn 16; it is very hard for them to be at home and they can even become dangerous,” she said, explaining that usually each year only about 50 new spots open up for adults with autism.

Reins said that people with autism are not similar to other groups of people with disabilities in that they have sensory problems that can be triggered by certain noises or situations.

“They [adults with autism] need to be in the community but not right in the middle; their hostels have to be on the side of the community so that they do not disturb the neighbors who might not understand their needs, yet they are nearby and can participate if they are able,” she said, estimating that there are roughly 25 hostels operating across Israel.

Each house includes social workers as well as medical, therapeutic and administrative staff and a full-time live-in housekeeper. Most of the hostels hold roughly 24 people and it is ideal that each person receives their own room, though Welfare and Social Services Ministry regulations only provide for shared rooms.

In the new hostel now being built in Tel Aviv, Reins said that each adult will receive their own room with three people sharing a shower facility.

In response, Lili Abiri, the director of services for people with autism, denied that there is a waiting list as described by Alut and explained that this had been the situation several years ago.

“It is totally different today,” she said, pointing out that at least four government tenders for new hostels had gone out over the past year and that two more would soon follow.

“We have no knowledge of any waiting lists. In fact, there are many places that have empty rooms,” said Abiri, adding that the new hostel was being built by a specific group of parents who feel that the provisions by the ministry do not meet their standards.

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