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All profits from the sale of the book are being donated to CASA
(Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children)

“Jim's innovative approach to organizational performance has helped me to bring incredible levels of positive change to my agency.”

Steven Cook, Executive Director, Mercer Arc, Inc.


Results

USING APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
FOR PUBLIC POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING

SITUATION
The Legislative and Policy Director of the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (NJCOSAC) requested that we facilitate a ‘whole system’ symposium to explore and develop possibilities for more housing opportunities for persons with autism spectrum disorder. Because the Director had previously participated in the appreciative strategic planning retreat facilitated by us, she wanted to use the appreciative inquiry approach the housing symposium.

APPROACH
We worked in collaboration with the Legislative and Policy Director to:

  • Design and plan a one day planning symposium using appreciative inquiry to identify the current system’s strengths and core assets and to imagine and plan how these strengths and assets could be leveraged to obtain greater housing opportunities in the future.
  • Determine an affirmative topic as the focus of the symposium.
  • Invite whole system involvement in the event that included families and persons with autism, professionals, advocates and governmental stakeholders.
  • Plan the 4-I appreciative inquiry cycle to guide the dialogue of the symposium.
  • Include a “Wall of History” as part of the event—a 50 year graphic depiction of the history of housing development and placements for persons with autism highlighting the strengths and assets of the system.

RESULTS
The symposium produced 100’s of practical ideas and strategies for more affordable and accessible housing opportunities. Some of the key strategies were:

  • That housing for persons with ASD requires person centered support services that are life
    span oriented.
  • That housing choices for persons with ASD must include a range of options from supervised living arrangements to more independent living alternatives with support services.
  • That housing supportive services must be tailored to the individualized needs of the person with ASD.
  • That planning for more affordable, accessible housing must involve greater communication
    with families.

NJCOSAC is presently using the outcomes of the symposium to guide its advocacy for more services for persons with ASD.