Autism Speaks House to Home Prize

October 15, 2015 Prize official launch

March 1, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST Submission deadline

March 2, 2016 Judging begins

April 19, 2016 Winners announced


Autism Speaks House to Home Prize

Moving out of the family home – that giant step into adulthood – is never easy for anyone. For those living with autism, however, the challenges and fears surrounding this life stage can be overwhelming, not just for them, but for their families as well. While many efforts have been made to support this transition, this important rite of passage is difficult to achieve without the right supports and services. There is no turnkey fix; no one-size-fits-all approach; no easy answer.

Unencumbered, creative, and radically obtainable thinking is needed to create alternative housing and support services (“supports”).

Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, is sponsoring the Autism Speaks House to Home Prize to bring about these breakthroughs. With the power of your ideas, we can enable an entire segment of our population to achieve independence and self-actualization.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. Currently, more than 3 million individuals in the US are living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and government statistics indicate that ASD diagnoses are increasing 10 to 17 percent annually. The majority of those currently diagnosed with ASD are under the age of 18, but 500,000 of these individuals will be entering adulthood over the next ten years, and the number of adults living with autism will continue to grow from there.

Currently, 81% of adults with autism live with their parents. As parents grow older they want what all parents want for their children – to see them be able to create a life of their own. Yet homes and residential supports that meet the needs of adults with autism, while simultaneously providing the opportunity for independence and self-actualization, are in very short supply. Organizations and alliances are dedicated to making the search for housing and community living more fruitful. However, there is a severe lack of options to meet escalating demand.

Many people with autism need some level of support to live as independently as possible. The scope of necessary supports is vast and highly individualized. Housing “solutions” encompass more than a physical place to live; a true housing solution is inseparable from the need for assistance in several important aspects of life. Housing and support services that meet the needs of each individual with autism can be powerful enablers of employability, integration with the local community, and the ability to carry out productive daily activities. It is also a foundation for an individual’s wellbeing, safety, fulfillment as a human, and means to thrive.

Depending on the individual, the range of supports needed can include help with:

Daily living activities and self-help skills
Transportation and access to the community, employment and leisure opportunities
Managing finances
Personal safety
Accessing medical care

One of the few options for providing quality care is a group home. A group home shared with a small number of other people (with or without autism), and integrated into a local community, is the primary and nearly exclusive model of housing available. Group homes and similar variants have been successful but have many limiting factors. These drawbacks make them unobtainable for the vast majority.

High cost: Permanent (lifelong) domiciles are among the most expensive housing solutions for anyone.
Time: A long time is required for custom design, construction, and retrofit.
Supports: Use of a set of permanent (career long), specifically trained caregivers, which are in short supply, and are also expensive to pay for over a person’s lifetime.
Although this is clearly the reference point, holding to the existing “ideal” housing has resulted in less perfect but potentially viable solutions being overlooked. Special considerations such as safety, stability, and accessibility are very important, but may be met in unique ways. The new ‘best’ housing solutions are likely to be flexible, configurable, accessible, and accommodate changing, evolving needs and preferences of a person with autism as they progress through life. Viable alternatives will undoubtedly involve tradeoffs – in number of roommates, proximity to transit or family, continuity, location, size of home, or other factors. Each tradeoff equals a new alternative.

The breakthroughs sought are “belief buster” solutions that may include unthinkable options, such as different types of caregivers, new types of caregivers, shared services, services provided for short periods of time, housing that is not in the same city as family, or others. By opening up thinking around what we believe to be the “standard,” a barrage of new, freeing, unconventional, ingenious, practical, or stupidly simple solutions is bound to be unleashed. It is the implementation of these new ideas which gives them future value.

The challenging of the status quo in other industries has enabled alternative products and services that changed people’s lives. These now have our trust, and we use and rely on these every day. Examples:

Uber: Transportation. A solution to solve taxi horrors that people thought were inescapable.
Yelp: We never thought we’d rely on the opinions of people we will never know, but we got over it.
LinkedIn: A person’s LinkedIn profile can reliably be “verified.” Without government involvement. The new standard way to buy anything from electronics to breakfast cereal.
Air BnB: We are now willing to stay with strangers, because they have space available.

The Prize
Autism Speaks is reaching out to you, the problem-solver community, to develop revolutionary solutions that empower adults with ASD to live as independently as possible while remaining connected to a larger community. This breakthrough must include the supports necessary to safely live outside of the family home, and it may come in the form of technology, architecture design, strategic partnerships, community services, new business models, or any combination of these or countless other ideas.

The needs of individuals with ASD seeking to live independently will vary greatly depending upon their strengths and challenges. As a result, Autism Speaks will be offering three prizes for three separate solutions to the Prize:

Home and residential support solutions for individuals who require 24/7 support
Home and residential support solutions for individuals who require daily support
Home and residential support solutions for individuals who require weekly support (support needed a few times per week, but not every day)
The best solution in each of these categories will receive a $50,000 USD prize. The total prize purse is $150,000 USD.

Note that the Prize includes all forms of housing and supports that could meet at least some of the requirements for people with autism. Collaboration is encouraged to create single entries that include complimentary and partial options. The Prize will be judged on best overall solutions submitted.

The judging panel will be looking for belief-busting ideas that are resourceful, inspiring, simple, collaborative, and/or transformative. These alternatives are intended to be implemented as a pilot program, evaluated, then adjusted or improved upon, but submissions for this Prize need only be innovative solutions in idea form; nothing needs to be built or implemented in order to qualify for the Prize.

The competition is your canvas. Entrants may submit written proposals, photos, drawings, comparative examples, business plan outlines, and/or other digital media. For each entry you make, there is a limit of 10 pages of text, not including supporting materials. Paper size must be 8.5 by 11 inches. Minimum margins are one inch. Font must be minimum 12 pt, single-spaced (text in tables and figures may be as small as 9 pt). Entries must be submitted in the form of a single PDF document (10 MB maximum). Embedded hyperlinks to external content, such as videos or animations (maximum two minutes duration recommended) are allowed, however, there is no guarantee that judges will view external content.

Entrants are asked to focus their submission only on the proposed solution, rather than providing background on autism. Judges will assess the quality and viability of each entry based on these criteria: Clear, Concise, and Compelling.

Go to competition website for more details. 

126 total views, 1 views today