First home-for-life for autistic youth in Tel Aviv opens

The house is divided into three living sections, with eight residents residing in each section acting as a family unit.

September 17, 2014 00:36
2 minute read.
Young girl puts together a puzzle [illustrative]

Young girl puts together a puzzle [illustrative]. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The opening of the Friendship House – the first home-for-life for autistic youth in Tel Aviv – is an important milestone, demonstrating that the state grants rights to people with autism and to their families, said Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen on Tuesday.

The new house, named after the late Yael Goldstein, the mother of Gal, who is one of 24 residents living in the house, is operated by ALUT, the Israeli Society for Autistic Children.

The planning for the home was conducted according to the accumulated experience and belief of ALUT that a home-for-life is essentially a familial framework in a residential neighborhood, which allows the autistic residents to experience as close to a family lifestyle as possible while taking into account the personal needs of each resident.

The house is divided into three living sections, with eight residents residing in each section acting as a family unit, eating together, engaging in joint activities, and sharing a common area to watch television.

“The biggest fear of parents of autistic children is a concern for the future, thinking about the day when they can no longer care for their children in need of treatment and close supervision,” said Einat Cassuto-Shefi, director-general of ALUT.

“The construction of permanent homes for them is a huge relief for the parents, who know that they now have a little piece of paradise where there is someone looking out for their children from here on out,” she said.

Currently, there are 17 homes-for-life throughout the country operated by ALUT. Parents of autistic children often face great bureaucratic and financial challenges in building these homes, as they have to find suitable land as well as finance the multimillion dollar endeavor.

The process to build the home-for-life in Tel Aviv began over a decade ago through the joint efforts of parents with autistic children. Construction officially began only three years ago on the land allocated by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality in the Bavli neighborhood in Tel Aviv.

The funding for the home came in part from the National Insurance Institute Disabled Services Development Fund and from generous donations of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Rashi Foundation and other donors.

“This house is the result of the continuous efforts of the parents,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president and founder of the IFCJ at the opening of the house.

“We have a lot of problems and challenges in Israel, especially when it comes to welfare.

There is no government or fund that can address all the [welfare] issues,” he said.

Eckstein called on the government, nonprofit and business sectors to join together and collaborate to address the problems and challenges facing the state and serve as a model of inspiration for the rest of the world.

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