Matt is a 23-year-old, highly functioning, young man with autism who lives at Treasure House. His journey to Treasure House started in Keene, New Hampshire. “Matt was a perfect baby, but I kind of always thought something was different about him. I noticed that he didn’t make a lot of eye contact when he was little, and was very slow to babble,” said Shelley McDonald, Matt’s mother. “By the time he was three, he wasn’t communicating and was just sort of in his own little world.”
The Sedwick family moved to Phoenix and began early intervention programs – in addition to his regular schooling, Matt went to speech therapy, and saw a therapist, developmental pediatrician, and psychologist. “Matt blossomed through these services,” said Shelley. “But I was always wondering what life could be like to him after he graduated. Kids with autism really regress when there’s suddenly no friends, peer support, teachers and social interaction.”
Every year, 111,600 intellectually and developmentally disabled teens age out of school-based autism services.
Looking towards the future, Matt was enrolled in Project Search, which provides job training to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He was able to secure a job in the cafeteria of a school in the Deer Valley Unified School District. “He hasn’t missed a day of work and is his boss’s right-hand man,” said Shelley. “After we had the job dialed in, we thought ‘what are we going to do about life?’” said Shelley. “I started to dig into what would to do next that would provide him with continued structure.”
When Shelley began looking into supported living for Matt, she felt that it was impossible to find something that afforded Matt equal amounts of socialization and privacy. Then she found Treasure House, an active living community in Phoenix for young adults with disabilities. “It has been a gift for me to be able to let go a little bit,” said Shelley. “I have unwavering support for and heartfelt thanks to the staff and everything that Treasure House embodies. It is a true gift.” With active engagement from leadership, Life Coaches and Community Assistance, all Treasure House residents gain independence, community, inclusion and purpose. The nonprofit provides a superior living experience, which supports a broad representation of people through equally diverse programming.
At Treasure House, all residents learn life skills, set goals and gain responsibilities. “Treasure House is intended as a stepping stone for Matt – he wants his own home,” said Brittany, Matt’s Life Coach. “He tries each day to interact with his peers more he’d like to have more meaningful connections. It’s huge that he’s willing to try new things and venture out!”
At Treasure House, residents find jobs, volunteer, and develop and manage their own routines, schedules, and appointments. Residents have unlimited opportunity to explore the community with friends they have made at Treasure House, exercise their minds and bodies, and try new activities. Residents learn to schedule their own appointments, communicate when they need to run errands, and learn how to safely use technology. “Matt is able to walk to Fired Pie with a friend – staff knows where he is but they don’t go with him. He can enjoy a nice dinner with a pal, and I find comfort in knowing that Treasure House’s neighboring establishments keep a loving eye on my son and his peers while they’re participating in community-centric activities like the rest of us do.”