Channel3000.com: 'Hooo-tenanny' event reveals plans for Wisconsin's first ever autism-specific apartments

'Hooo-tenanny' event reveals plans for Wisconsin's first ever autism-specific apartments

'Hooo-tenanny' event reveals plans for Wisconsin's first ever autism-specific apartments

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NEW GLARUS, Wis. – Twenty years ago, Susan Wallitsch and Mary Anne Omeichen met for the first time. They were both young mothers, and both had children with autism. They became fast friends, but after a move, they lost touch. 

More than a decade and a half later, the two reconnected. By then, their children were older, leaving one question on both of their minds. 

“What happens when our children grow up and we can’t take care of them anymore?” said Wallitsch.

That’s when Wallitsch and Omeichen got to thinking, and quickly their idea began involving others.

“We started reaching out,” Omeichen said. “We started talking to people, and people would say ‘Hey, you should talk to this person from UW extension, or you should talk to this person.”

Eventually, Omeichen and Wallitsch’s idea began to take shape, and after partnering with the Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corporation, a plan for a 40 unit apartment complex was born. 

Out of the 40 units, 10 would be designated specifically for people with autism. Architect Kyle Dumbleton says this is one of the most unique projects he’s worked on.

“When you have autism, you think about light and sound differently,” he said. “There’s just different triggers like that. You just try and make it the most comforting environment possible.”

The project still needs additional funding, but members of A Home of Our Own have events, like a “Hooot-enanny” (a play on the Home of our own name) on Saturday, planned to raise money. They say the complex could break ground in the summer of 2019, making it the first of its kind in Wisconsin’s history. 

“We are probably next to sure that this is going to be the first place like this statewide,” said Omeichen. 

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