Local Dr. Debra Caudy discovered firsthand that the options available for autistic adults are extremely limited, especially when you consider that individuals with the disorder comprise two percent of the population in communities around the world. Her 21-year-old son, Jon, was diagnosed with the disorder as a toddler and continues to live at home. A former oncologist, she left her practice 17 years ago to devote herself to supporting and advocating for the youngest of her four children. During Jon’s teen years, Dr. Caudy and her husband, Dr. Clay Heighten, also a retired physician, began considering options for their son’s future. They often wondered whether he would ever be able to find a place to live where he could be have friends, be loved on, have a job and lead an adult life.
Dr. Caudy researched supportive housing communities and learned about a limited number that operate in cities around the nation. Not wanting to relocate from North Texas, Drs. Caudy and Heighten put the wheels in motion to develop programming and services, as well as design an entire residential community tailored specifically to autistic and neurodiverse adults. In 2015, the couple teamed with other area families affected by autism and founded 29 Acres, a nonprofit organization whose support services largely cover clients in Collin and Denton counties. Dedicated to providing services and safe housing for autistic adults ages 18 and older, the first phase of this sizeable residential development located in the town of Cross Roads is scheduled to welcome 32 full-time residents next summer.