Dozens of Parents Commit $1 Million to Help Build Autism Community in Denton

A Dallas couple planning to build a $12 million community for young adults with autism say they have confirmed enough money from individual investors to begin the first wave of the project by the end of the year.Clay Heighten and Debra Caudy, both retired doctors, have a 19-year old son, Jon, who is on the severe end of the autism spectrum.The couple gained national attention in January when they announced plans to build a community for people like Jon, on 29 acres of land in the Denton County town of Cross Roads. They cited a national shortage of innovative models to provide long-term solutions to young adults with autism as the children transition into adulthood.The public response to The Dallas Morning News' original post about the effort was “overwhelming” and spoke to the demand for such a community, Caudy said."As a parent, your No. 1 worry is what's going to happen when we're no longer here?" said John Foley, who has signed up to be one of the investors.Foley, a human resources VP from Frisco whose 14-year-old son, Hudson, has autism, met Heighten and Caudy through a colleague in 2009 when the project was just being conceptualized. He has since volunteered to join the board.So far, about a dozen investors, from Texas to Alaska, mainly parents of children on the autism spectrum, have signed legal documents promising $80,000 each, or just under $1 million total.In 2015, Caudy and Heighten had personally invested $745,000 to purchase the land. Last year, they created a nonprofit called 29 Acres to raise money for the project.  Continue reading...

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