Community of Support for Young Adults With Autism Moves Forward

It's estimated that 50,000 people with autism age of out of the school system every year and that 85 percent of adults with autism are unemployed.

Now, a Denton County community where those adults can work, live and play has secured the money it needs to move forward with construction.

Debra Caudy and Clay Heighten, of Dallas, plan to build a $12 million community for young adults with autism and say they have confirmed enough money from individual investors to begin the first wave of the project by the end of the year.

The community is called 29 Acres, named after the acreage where it will sit, in Cross Roads, Denton County.

Caudy and Heighten's 19-year-old son, Jon, can't live on his own without assistance, so the couple hopes to create the housing community for people on the autism spectrum to learn and live independently.

"He feels empowered. He feels good when he's independent, and we are going to push independence at 29 Acres," Caudy said.

They say they're moving forward with the project in hopes of creating an innovative model that provides long-term solutions to young adults with autism as the children transition into adulthood.

"This is an iteration, an evolution of a better way of incorporating folks with autism into the community," Heighten said.

A dozen investors have stepped up, now giving them the financial backing to move forward with formal plans and construction bids.

Some of those investors are families in the same walk of life.

"Parents are excited because they're worried. What's going to happen to their loved one when they're not around to support that person?" Caudy said.

They set up a 501c3 to raise money to build the 15-home community on the acreage south of U.S. Highway 380.

It will house up to 60 residents and offer services for adults with autism who are transitioning into independent living or who will need assisted living indefinitely.

29 Acres will also collaborate with area hospitals, colleges and schools for a variety of training and support services.

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