Building a Perpetual Motion Machine

Retirement and estate planning when you are a family with a child with special needs is a little different.  Our friend Frank described it really well.  Frank said that it isn’t just about figuring out how to not run out of money during your life.  When you have one of these kiddos, you have to figure out how to build a perpetual motion machine that will function for as long as it needs to after you’re gone and provide for, protect and care for your child.

How much that might take financially is really a huge unknown, and is also probably a pretty large number.  And, if you move beyond the finances you have to have people involved who would have the concern and follow-up that you yourself would have if you could be around for your child’s whole life.

That second part is what we’re building now at Ridgeview.  We have a structure to work through the financial issues that doesn’t rely on government or other programs.   It’s about the best shot at a financial perpetual motion machine that we can come up with.  Even that relies on having skilled and caring people making decisions to keep it moving.

That’s where the tribe comes in.  We are currently spending all the time we can with the other families who are serious about Ridgeview.  When our kids move in, which should begin in 2019, they will already be good friends with lots of great shared experiences.  I know my son is getting excited about it.

As part of that, the group of parents and the families involved are also becoming good friends.  This is a project that will span generations, so we are taking the opportunities as they come to all get to know and be comfortable that we have similar visions of what we want to see happen at Ridgeview.  We are, after all, the team tasked to make it happen.  That team, as we spend time at it, really becomes a tribe when it come to our kids at Ridgeview.   The siblings and other extended family of the residents will probably be involved at some point so it is great if they’re not strangers and best if they’re friends.

Already this tribe building is working to expand the horizons of our kids as they get together and we do things socially they wouldn’t have done on their own.  Recently, we’ve toured the Rocky Reach dam, ridden go-karts, gone bowling a few times and visited the Hydroplane museum.  And, we’re getting some folks together for the unique way the town of Chelan celebrates Halloween.

It takes time to build a tribe, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good time!  A strong tribe is a big part of the perpetual motion machine we are putting together.  If it sounds like fun, we do still have at least one spot open….



It is called a “Shared Living Solution”

Back when we started working on Ridgeview Place, there wasn’t a term that was in use in the industry serving adults with developmental disabilities to describe the type of living situation we were creating.  Now, there is a term.  “Shared Living” or “Shared Living Solutions” is the term used to describe how Ridgeview Place works.

It is where a group of individuals live together, and either own or pay rent on, their home.  The arrangement usually involves a total of 2 to 4 people.  They may receive instruction and support delivered by contracted service providers. Individuals pay their own rent, food, and other personal expenses.  This is a different type of arrangement than a group home or adult home.  You can see the way DSHS categorizes things here.

There can be significant advantages for Shared Living arrangements.  Partners4Housing ( is working to help create Shared Living arrangements in the Puget Sound area and has an assessment and roommate matching tool as part of their process to getting successful Shared Living homes operating.

Ridgeview Chelan is not as far outside of the mainstream as it was when we started.  Shared Living arrangements can have lots of advantages.  When coupled with the Social Entrepreneurship of Ridgeview Place, most all of the concerns about creating an integrated, sustainable and stable home for adults with disabilities are addressed.

New web site on housing for adults with Autism, Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

The Autism Housing Network‘s goal is “Bringing together the best ideas in housing for adults with autism and 
other intellectual / developmental disabilities.”  That is does a great job of and it includes listings for housing options that are both available now and in building and planning stages.

It is a very well done web site.  Check it out:

We’re entering the “Autism Speaks House to Home Prize”

They are offering $50,000 prizes in each of three categories for “belief busting breakthroughs in housing and residential support for people with autism.”

Read about the Autism Speaks House to Home Prize here.

It looks like it takes writing up to about a 10 page entry.  So, why not?

Wish me luck!

A friend asked why my son just doesn’t keep living with us….

We had some friends over for dinner and were chatting about our Ridgeview Place project.  One of them asked my why our son doesn’t just live with us.

It is a good question.  It is certainly something we could do.  We have plenty of room for our son.

So, I explained why our son could have a much different life living more independently and how his transition when we are no longer around would be much easier by living at Ridgeview Place.

This project is about creating a much more fulfilling life than he would have living at home with us, his parents.  It is not just about our son having a place to live when we can no longer care for him.

Ridgeview is about creating a community, basically his own special type of family, to share his life with.  He needs peers in his life to share experiences with, challenge each other and grow together.  The environment we are creating will allow our son to progress without bounds on what he can achieve and become.  That is what we want for our son.  We have seen some great examples of the types of  “family” that this type of home can provide in our research.

It is also about providing meaningful and productive work so our son is a contributing member of society.  We want him to have opportunities to earn the self-esteem that comes from pulling his own weight.

Our son is an integral member of the Lake Chelan community.  He knows and enjoys a broad swath of friends and he spreads his own brand of joy throughout the town.  Ridgeview Place is designed to encourage such a fully integrated approach to life in a community that supports it wholeheartedly.

Sure, like most all special needs parents, we do have concerns about what happens to our son after we are no longer around to, or able to, care for him.  Having to place him in a rush due to a circumstance like failing health would not allow us to be sure we had a stable, happy, sustainable environment for our son.

The bottom line answer to my friend’s question is living at home would limit our son’s life and opportunities to our schedule and abilities.  We want him to experience so much more!

Ridgeview Place is a solution that provides a stable, rewarding and more challenging life in a loving and caring environment well beyond the experience our son would have living at home.  If you have a special needs family member you care deeply about and want to learn more, talk to us about joining us on our journey.


Lake Chelan Special Needs Parent Group on Facebook!

There is now a Lake Chelan Special Needs Parent Group on Facebook.  It is a place for parents, caregivers and relatives of special needs folks in the Lake Chelan area to share experiences, support, encouragement, knowledge and be listened to.

If any of that sounds like you, join up!  Groups of us usually get together for coffee and chat now and then as well.