Purposeful Architecture Designs Virginia Institute of Autism Facility for Adolescents and Adults

Building for the Future: The Center for Adolescent and Adult Autism Services Take Shape

By Catherine Purple Cherry, AIA, CAS, LEED, Purposeful Architecture 

When you raise a child with autism, you learn to live in the moment.  You can’t think about the future, especially in the early years.  You find yourself over-whelmed with just trying to figure out the day.  An over time, you might look forward a bit.  Before you worry what will happen when you’re gone.  Literally.  

Every mother or father raising a child worries about their future.  When a child struggles, these worries can be even bigger, if not, simply huge.  I remember my mother worrying about my brother with intellectual disabilities and his future without her.  She worried about her other children too.  And she worried that her other children would have additional responsibilities beyond their own families.  

When my adopted son on the autism spectrum was little, I wasn’t worried about him knowing how to add two-digit numbers.  I was always looking years out.  I credit my childhood experience with my Down Syndrome brother for this different outlook.  I was worried about my son’s future.  I focused on building his capacity to live as independently as possible.  I remember making the skills list when he was about seven years old. Vacuuming, sweeping, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, washing windows, raking leaving, folding laundry, grocery shopping, making simple meals.  I could go on endlessly….

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