Building A Village To Support Autism

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dan and Susan Burns worry about where their son will live and learn after they are gone.  23-year-old Benjamin Burns was diagnosed with Autism when he was three.  He graduated from high school and attends a center for adults with developmental delays.   But that center does not specialize in adults with autism and the Dallas couple is now spearheading an effort to build a complex called The Autism Trust.

“I want to establish a network of rural and urban villages where adult children with autism, like Ben, graduates from high school, have a safe place to live and work and make friends” says Mr. Burns.

The Burns say their son was deemed “unemployable” by a social service agency and they disagree with that assessment.  “He can bus tables.  He can pick up trash.  We thought about going into the doggie pooper scooper business” says Susan Burns.

Thursday night at 7pm the Burns are hosting a free book-signing event to introduce North Texans to the concept behind The Autism Trust, which is currently operating in Hampton, England.

“It’s not going to be the government that does this” says Mr. Burns.  “It’s going to be the parents, bringing their own resources.  This will be largely privately-funded” he says.

April 28th – 7pm
Angelika Film Center
7205 Bishop road
Suite E6
Plano, Texas 75024
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Rupert Isaacson and Kristin Neff
Free Presentation and Book Signing

The Autism Trust complex in England includes a conference center, business center, vocational opportunities, residential accommodations and retail facilities operated and run by people with autism.

The idea to build a similar “village” in Austin is still in its infancy and the Burns and their collaborators are looking for private funding.  Eventually they hope to build more centers “in any state that welcomes us” says Mr. Burns.

“We have hopes for Ben, that he can have a meaningful life, that he can have meaningful work and friends” says Mrs. Burns.  “That he can continue to learn.”

Susan Burns says there will be challenges.  “Nobody knows how to attack this whole upcoming wave of autism and we’re new at it and whenever you’re new at something, you make a huge amount of mistakes because you go on anyway” she says.  “The challenge is never having done it before.”

  • Mark

    If the Burns read these comments, there is the beginning of an Autism community already started in Frisco called nonPareil Institute. Their long term mission is to establish a community that gives Autistic adults a real quality of life including jobs and housing all in a community setting.

  • C B

    Autism is junk science – PURE QUACKERY. ADD, ADHD, autism… it’s all manufactured by Big-Pharma to push more drugs to idiotic, lazy parents who would rather take the easy way and medicate their kids – a nation of pill-poppers is what we’ve become, rather than really getting to the bottom of what is basically bad parenting and not enough discipline.

    • NO

      You have no clue as to what you are talking about CB. Why dont you do some research on Autism before you make claims like this.

    • mrbongos

      Obviously CB you don’t have anyone in your life with Autism. It’s a shame your ignorance shines so brightly. You have formed an opinion that I’m sure I won’t change but I at least must respond so those who read your comments can hear from someone who is impacted by Autism. I have two daughters, both are exceptional students academically one graduated with honors the other will graduate next year. One is autistic and has never been on drugs for her autism, there are no drugs that control autism. My autistic daughter is limited in her ability to talk with people and hold a conversation, she looks at the world through the eyes of a child even though she almost an adult but put her behind a computer and you would be amazed at what she can do. There is no bad parenting here just a disease that neither my wife or I can do anything about but help her deal with life the best she can.

      CB if you met my daughter you would not know she was autistic until you tried talking with her and then I would hope you would not make fun of her as you seem to enjoy doing but instead would realize she was different and still try to engage her. We need less of your uninformed ideology and more of your understanding because whether you change your attitude or not you will pay for all of the autistic kids who will eventually need society’s help to make it through life.

  • fm

    CB if you spend any time at an autism center you will understand that these people have real problems. Could you be confusing ADD with autism?

  • CB

    No, FM, I’m not confusing autism with ADD…


  • ABS

    I like corn.

  • CK


    I live in Mckinney, TX with a 5 year old son who has Autism. I will be glad to have come by my home so you can meet my son, and then i can kick your F#$KING A@@! I really can handle a lot of things but people like you make me sick. You have no idea what you are talking about! One more work for you KARMA!

  • Reeper

    This is a great ideal yet it should span to all others who cannot function in regular society, each within it’s own same type groups and be also funded by the State and government since in the end we pay for it anyway one way or another. Yet their parents should also will their possessions equally among the children and help provide for these special ones after they are gone.
    Those with mental illness should all be grouped into such an environment to make sure they take their medication and also make them self supported.
    Same goes with those who are on welfare living in public assistant housing, they can make communities in which they support themselves also.
    Then you have your prisoners who cannot get a job or will not work when they get released.
    Each later if they can function on their own outside of these centers can leave.

    Those with autism or problems which can’t be helped should be the first the State and government help fund and later expanding such communities to the rest. I know it’s a terrible burden/thought that you will leave behind a child who cannot function the same as the rest and with these type communities you will feel much better. A great society leaves no one behind and uses all of it’s resources in a manor that helps all in ways which will burden it less. Any person who can by any means become self supportive in such a community is one in which will benefit not only themselves but also society.

    C B yes I have seen children who where holy terrors only because their parents did not believe in punishment, yet not all cases are the same. I’m sure if you had a child with autism you would have severely punished it until you finally realized that doesn’t work and then you would lock it away hiding it in your basement so society would not know you had such a child as many foolish people have done in the past. Thank goodness we are not all born with the same kind of brain you where born with. You will always remain a part of society’s problem and not part of it’s solution until you start using that brain you where given.

  • Megalope

    CB, What are you afraid of? Clearly you are afraid of something. I read “FEAR” between every line you write. Why are you afraid of autism?

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