Sometimes lost amidst questions about what causes autism and why its prevalence has increased, is this: What happens when all of those children become adults? We have a vision for helping play just a small part in answering this question.
3 Irish Jewels Farm will be an assisted, sustainable farm living program, along with day programs, in the Triangle area for adults with autism. It will also provide track-out & summer programs for children with autism. We will be getting the community involved in huge ways, such as providing volunteer opportunities, educational workshops and internships with the surrounding universities.
There are about 10 other of these working farms in other parts of the country. They all have these factors in common: A rural setting, quiet/peaceful environment, near small towns. They are focused on autism, with well-trained staff and supervision, and a structured teaching approach. They offer on-site vocational opportunities, recreation/leisure activities, horticulture and animals. They offer community integration and support. Most importantly, though, each program is totally full, with virtually no turnover and very long wait lists for admissions. What does this mean? That overall, these programs are highly successful models for individuals with autism, and we need many more of them. 3 Irish Jewels Farm is striving to be the next farm like this to open its doors. We would like to provide a local farmer's market, an onsite thrift store, an onsite store for the residents to sell their crafts, CSAs (Community Shared Agriculture) for local individuals as well as local restaurants who like to use local farmer's fare, hippotherapy (horse riding therapy for special needs), all sorts of animals from chickens to alpacas (for their fiber), to horses to goats to rabbits. The list of ideas is infinite. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with a fabulous board of directors fundraising like crazy with a million fabulous ideas swirling around in our collective minds. Most importantly, we would like to provide everyone who walks through its doors the opportunity to "discover the treasures that lie within all of us."
Autism is the most common developmental disability, affecting 1 in 68 births. A decade ago, the rate was thought to be about 1 in 2500 births. At the same time, there are at least 3,000 children in the Wake County Public School System with autism. Why, then, is there such a critical shortage of services for adults with autism for tens of thousands of families in the U.S. who struggle to provide a meaningful and productive life for their loved one who has aged out school? Why is there such a critical shortage of places for children with autism for their working parents to take them, when it comes time for summer vacation, track-out, or after school hours?
We are currently raising funds for land acquisition so we can get this phenomenal business up and running. Our goal is to establish our organization in Wake County, where these services are needed the most, and where the resources are most attainable for self-sustainability. But land does not come cheap in Wake County. Won't you please help us bring this much needed place to fruition?
For more information or questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
With gratitude, Erin O'Loughlin Founder & President