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Accessory dwelling good fit for man with autism, Down syndrome

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If You Go

 What: HOME Advisory Group conferences.

When: 6:15 to eight p.m. the final Monday of each month. (The subsequent assembly is Jan. 30.)

Where: The Arc of Southwest Washington, 6511 E. 18th St., Vancouver.

Information: Contact Jennifer Matheis at 360-254-1562, ext. 132, or

Yung Ting Engelbrecht lounges on his sofa watching “Barney” on a pill. He can scan QR codes taped to the wall that join him to a few of his favourite YouTube movies.

“Where are you going to sleep tonight?” asks his mother, Jacqueline Noel.

“New house,” Yung Ting says.

His 288-square-foot accent dwelling unit is hooked up to his mother and father’ home in east Vancouver. Even although he’s lived within the unit for slightly over a yr, Yung Ting nonetheless calls his place “new house” and his mother and father’ “big house.”

When individuals initially heard that Yung Ting was getting his personal place, many have been stunned. The 23-year-old has autism and Down syndrome.

The rising prices of housing prevents many individuals with mental and developmental disabilities from securing housing and the independence that comes with it. Many have part-time work, if any work in any respect, or obtain profit checks that don’t stretch far in in the present day’s housing market. Yung Ting is unemployed.

Building an adjunct dwelling unit, or ADU, is among the extra artistic choices on the market for mother and father and care suppliers grappling with what sort of housing might stability freedom with help. It’s not nearly having a spot to stay, it’s additionally about enhancing the general high quality of life, stated Jennifer Matheis, the housing useful resource and coaching coordinator at The Arc of Southwest Washington.

Matheis was excited concerning the out-of-the-box answer for Yung Ting and inspired Noel to share what they’d achieved. Noel introduced on the ADU at Housing Options Must Exist, a gaggle of oldsters and care suppliers that meets month-to-month at The Arc.

“I think it gives everybody more hope and excitement about the possibilities,” Matheis says.

Matheis, who has labored at The Arc for a few yr, doesn’t know another households who’ve gone this route. Many choose for a roommate state of affairs.

A greater life

Yung Ting was born in Hong Kong and adopted in 1994 by Noel and Ted Engelbrecht when he was 1. His three nonbiological siblings met him in an orphanage whereas doing a service studying undertaking overseas.

The household lived in Vietnam for 15 years earlier than shifting to Vancouver to make a greater life for Yung Ting. Ted Engelbrecht is American, however was born and raised in India. Noel is from Belgium.

“We left because of him, because we started thinking about long term. He was almost done with high school, and we knew we would not be around forever. In Vietnam, they don’t have much at all for people with special needs,” Noel stated.

At his worldwide faculty, he was the one scholar with a developmental incapacity.

It was simpler for the couple to get jobs in America than in Europe, they usually have household in Seattle. Ted Engelbrecht teaches theology at Concordia University in Portland, and Noel is a paraeducator at Evergreen High School, which Yung Ting attended. 

“We were told that Vancouver was much better for special education than Portland,” Noel stated.

The concept to construct an ADU for Yung Ting happened when his mother and father began exploring housing choices. Yung Ting doesn’t wish to be round individuals all the time, so a roommate state of affairs didn’t appear ideally suited, and flats have been costly. Initially, they needed to assemble a tiny home on wheels that might be moved, however they couldn’t safe the permits to try this.

So, they turned to builder Jay Lepisto. He had constructed a gazebo for the household they usually needed an ADU that visually tied the property collectively. Lepisto principally does transforming tasks by means of his enterprise Finnesse Craftsman Inc.

“I had never done anything like that before,” he stated. “It was fun to design everything on a small scale.”

The ADU was inbuilt what was a vegetable backyard on the aspect of the home. It has built-in storage, its personal toilet lined with a colourful mosaic of tiles from Habitat for Humanity (the place Yung Ting volunteers) and easy-to-clean plank flooring. There’s a mixture washer and dryer, a mini-fridge and a microwave, however no range or oven. A coated entrance porch permits him to attend out of the rain for the C-Van bus.

When it was all completed, Yung Ting didn’t have to transition to life within the ADU. He simply gathered his stuff and moved.

“We were also debating whether or not to have direct access to the house. We decided, no, we want him to be independent. He’s got his own entrance and there’s no connection,” Noel stated. “I feel better having him in a smaller space than alone in a big house.”

Through his again door he can stroll throughout the deck and into his mother and father’ kitchen for dinner. After everybody says good night time, he locks the again door and closes the curtains — signalling that he’s achieved hanging out with his mother and father for the day.

Privacy and security

The household makes use of a mixture of high- and low-tech units to make the dwelling state of affairs work. They’re looking for the appropriate stability between privateness, independence and security.

To entry his home, he has to sort in a key code fairly than use a key. Ringing the doorbell prompts a digital camera that’s additionally activated by a movement sensor. So, typically, Yung Ting will ring his personal doorbell to speak to Mom via the digital camera.

Noel additionally makes use of a telephone software that permits her to name Yung Ting and that routinely picks up and connects to a speaker system in his home. They used the know-how for the primary time when Noel needed to take Ted Engelbrecht to the airport one morning and wouldn’t be residence to get up Yung Ting. So, she informed her daughter to make use of the audio system to name him and get him prepared for the day.

When Noel arrived house, Yung Ting was consuming breakfast, dressed and able to go, however he had a bizarre look on his face. “Chloe talk,” he stated time and again. Noel stated she feels dangerous that he acquired spooked.

“Maybe some much higher-functioning kid would not like this at all. They would realize they’re being watched,” Noel stated. “But I think in a way it’s reassuring for him.”

Reminder Rosie, an alarm clock designed for individuals with reminiscence points, reminds Yung Ting about duties and appointments; it can repeat till he turns it off. And footage on his calendar additionally inform him what he’s doing every day.

By his mattress, there are QR codes that when scanned with his pill result in prayers his household recorded, so he can comply with alongside and say his prayers earlier than mattress. Other apps on his pill inform him how a lot time he has left till his subsequent exercise. There are cleaning soap and shampoo dispensers, and a tool that places toothpaste on his toothbrush. Without it, toothpaste would get everywhere in the counter.

The ADU and all the furnishings, home equipment and know-how inside value about $50,000. The value was “very doable” for the pair of educators. They took out a mortgage to pay for all of it, however the funds on the mortgage are lower than renting an condominium can be. If Yung Ting hadn’t needed to maneuver proper in, the ADU might’ve been rented out for some time to assist pay for it.

“It was not Yung Ting who requested to move out. He was very happy with us. We realized that he was ready,” Noel stated.

Lepisto stated it might be cheaper to transform a part of an present house into an ADU — to make a house inside a house.


At first, Noel would nearly verify in on Yung Ting on a regular basis whereas she was away from house.

“I’ve learned a lot because I’ve learned to let go,” Noel stated. “He can call me if there’s a problem, and we’ve got good neighbors.”

She’s reluctant handy off entry to the cameras to anyone else. It’s his personal area, even when he nonetheless wants some help day-to-day.

“How do you make people more independent, not more dependent? Too often our answer is, ‘Oh, we feel sorry for them,’ but you actually end up breeding dependency rather than independency,” Ted Engelbrecht stated.

Yung Ting makes his breakfast each day, will get showered and dressed, hops on the bus and heads to his actions, whether or not it’s a cooking class, bowling or volunteer work. He is aware of how one can comply with a schedule and make contact with his mother and father, if wanted. Noel and Engelbrecht stated they might like to see Yung Ting get a job and assume he can do greater than individuals might anticipate.

“I’m not sure yet what kind of job he would get, but I’m still hoping he’ll get one,” Noel stated, including that everybody wants a function in life. “He’s learned things that he would never do when he was living with us.”

For now, she stated, she likes the elevated freedom everybody will get to take pleasure in. Being extra within the background of Yung Ting’s life provides the couple time to only be husband and spouse once more.

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