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It Takes a (Farm) Village

Intentional Communities, Woven Into Bucolic Farmland, Are Giving People with Special Needs a Place To Grow and Thrive.

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Last Updated: 06/02/2016 12:42 pm
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Meanwhile, with autism on the rise (one in 68 US children, and one in 42 boys, are on the autistic spectrum), we need more choices for a special-needs population that's growing quickly in this country. "It really calls for a societal response," says Henderson. "Maybe we have to develop ways to live that are more autistic friendly." Intentional communities like Camphill could offer a solution—one that destigmatizes people with special needs by putting everyone on an even playing field.

Living Beyond Labels

"There's something very freeing about being able to live beyond labels," adds Henderson. "We don't call ourselves staff; we volunteer our time. Of course, you can be paid to do a job and love it, but you can't pay somebody to care. Here you're not being paid, so you really have the freedom to offer what you can without having a price tag attached to it. And you find that the very people you are supposed to be caring for are also caring for you." As an example, Henderson talks about a woman who has lived with her family in a Triform household for many years. If Henderson's younger daughters are getting ready for soccer practice, she's in the basement looking for their shin guards; if her older child is feeling upset, she'll make a cup of tea. "She does what she can to give. And at the same time [my children] give her the experience of being loved and needed and respected."

In the farm village, health care for the disabled is not a Big Pharma industry or even a job. It's a way of living, and that is exactly why it is so effective. "This really does become your family," says Henderson. "There's a real love and appreciation for people beyond their abilities. It's not just what they do—it's who they are. There's a respect for a person's intrinsic qualities and spirit. That's a very loving thing."

RESOURCES

Camphill Village USA

Triform Camphill Community

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