Queens Community Opposed to Group Home for Autism


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A truly disheartening story has emerged from Queens, New York where Bellerose residents are saying “not in my backyard” to an Astoria nonprofit’s plan to set up a group home for young adults with autism in their neighborhood. Apparently, another group home exists in the community, so the neighborhood contends that the proposal constitutes oversaturation. They further hint that the affluent community of Forest Hills hosts a fraction of the group homes that their borough does and that it’s unfair.

The worst part of this story is that residents call the group home “a foolish and dangerous proposal," particularly objecting to the fact that the proposed site for the home is next to a ball field. 

These remarks reveal a shocking level of ignorance towards autism. Indeed, if you replaced the phrase “group home for child sex offenders” for “group home for individuals for autism," you would get the same level of vitriol. A clear voice for autism needs to bring information and sanity to the discussion, so that even if the proposal is denied and the proposed group home must find a new site, the community will be left with a greater appreciation of what it means to have autism and empathy and compassion are the appropriate responses to it. State assembly members have promised to look into the matter of oversaturation. 

Who will look into the matter of rampant, unwarranted fear?

I can’t help but be reminded of the new book, "The Science of Evil," by Simon Baron-Cohen. His contention is that individuals with autism are devoid of empathy, while having compensating “systemizing” qualities that damage our children’s cause. Likewise, the recent spate of crime stories featuring individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome creates a false impression that they are risky members of the community. 

In point of fact, while a large percentage of individuals with autism have encounters with police, almost none of them are the result of the individual-first committing a crime. This makes the often tragic outcome of these encounters all-the-more heartbreaking. How the press handles autism has a huge impact on the future of those on the spectrum. and the current trends aren’t looking good.

At a time when more-and-more youngsters with autism will be growing up and aging out of services, the need for public education about autism is greater than ever. 

Housing solutions for young adults with autism are among the most pressing needs. Expect an onslaught of situations like the one in Queens if more isn’t done to pave the way for our grown children to be assimilated into their respective communities.

5 Responses to Queens Community Opposed to Group Home for Autism

  1. I have Asperger’s Syndrome myself. *prepares for ignorance of article and simple hatred, and treating stereotypes as fact*

  2. Susan says:

    best of luck to you…

    SM

  3. WILFRED says:

    First of all God Bless you why a lot of company are waisting timne and putting those innoncent child giving crazy medicine just to calm them, but not to realy help them thats why a lot of parent mured their child my dreams is to creat an organization where us as parent we could take our kids to clean his system of all the chemicals. This the first past than we need to help our child.

  4. chung deh tien says:

    My son has autism. he is 5. his teacher tells me in school, he with his little body will force himself to keep the cafeteria door open for those in wheelchairs to pass through first, he can be very mischievous like dumping water from the bath tub to the bathroom floor and bounce on the puddle but he is not a unemphatic person, more so he is very emphatic, because he has allot of people he love to hug and sit with, its just he learn thing on his own term, allot people don’t get that from an autistic person. my mom is also autistic, she got into trouble with the law because of her and the police officer’s miss understanding do the the fact her English is bad and her fears kick in with people in uniforms, no one in my family likes to talk about that, i learn allot about autism no knowing what it is or why my mom behave that way. as to my son, he does not speak well and does not speak on his own most of the time. he walks funny and other kids run away from him in the play ground. he understand he is different then others when he was 2. i saw it in his eyes when this for the first time the other kids walk away from him when all he does is smile. i don’t think he has a chance to make a living in life. i think he is a sweet kid but as an adult i fear for his life in his future. parents who really love their children understand the trigger for their autistic child’s fear. my son’s trigger is loud sound and people taking away his things he loves with out explaining it to him. to him its someone bulling him or punching him for no reason. all he does is cry when this happens. i try to comforting him but this is a weekly thing and he is not out growing it. how do you explain to an citizen that having a autism home is not a choice for this sweet child or their family its like adult daycare,it is just necessary part of the community, we really have to have one in queens.

  5. Susan Moffitt says:

    Thank you for writing. Your words are very touching. I’m sorry to learn of your mother’s trouble with the policeman. That’ something that concerns me alot – police and autism.

    Your son is still very young. He will grow and change and may be able to do a lot more in the future than you can imagine now.

    People in general don’t understand autism, so they fear it. I wish autism advocates could educate people in the community so that they would be supportive of group homes.

    Good luck to you and your family. You sound like a fine father.

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