Elwyn: Serving Individuals with Disabilities since 1852

 February 13, 2014
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On November 11 of 2013, M&L staff launched their very own, one of a kind Independent Living Program and Housing database. This online database has over 800 entries of independent living programs, service providers and special needs organizations from across the United States – and in addition to this, also contains other important resources related to housing, such as news articles, journal studies, research and financial information.

As a part of M&L’s commitment to the database and its subscribers, Maedi and M&L staff update the database monthly. These updates include adding new independent living and housing programs, ensuring that the information is current and reliable, and ensuring that contact information for every program and organization is current. As a part of February’s update, M&L added an entry on Elwyn, a housing program and service provider for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although the information is available in the database for subscribers, we wanted to share a little bit about this incredible organization with all of our readers – we hope that it will serve as an inspiration for all individuals with disabilities, and for those families who are searching for programs for their family members with ASD.

Elwyn – What is it?

According to the organization’s website, Elwyn is an organization that is “at the forefront of developing unique, innovative services for people with disabilities.[i]” Elwyn provides services to a wide range of individuals (of all ages) in areas related to behavioral health, early childhood, individuals with hearing loss, special education, research and health, work and day adult programs, and supports for living.

As if their impressive list of services isn’t enough, their incredibly inspirational history is fodder for the movies: Elwyn was founded in 1852, during a time when it was standard practice for individuals with disabilities to be sent away from their families, to live off of the street or to be housed with violent criminals. Dr. Richard Elwyn, the founder, thought that there had to be a better way to support these individuals – from this idea, he developed one of the first schools for children with disabilities. From a small home in Germantown, PA Dr. Elwyn and the school’s superintendent, Dr. James Richards, offered special education services to 26 students with disabilities – a groundbreaking achievement that has paved the way for special needs advocacy efforts that have spanned three centuries.

Over the years, Elwyn has grown from this tiny, 26 student-schoolhouse into “a diverse, multi-state human services organization serving individuals with a wide range intellectual, physical, behavioral and developmental disabilities. Today, Elwyn serves over 12,000 people with programs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and California. For over 158 years, Elwyn’s mission has remained steadfast: to maximize the potential of the people we serve to help them lead productive, meaningful lives.[ii]

For more information on the history of Elwyn, please visit their About Elywn webpage.

Elwyn’s Services – Housing

As we have indicated, the list of services provided by Elwyn is certainly comprehensive. For a full account of the services they offer under their seven program areas, please visit their Services webpage. For the purposes of this blog, however, we will be focusing on their residential and community living services.

Elwyn living supports are available in Philadelphia and New Jersey, and include campus living, community based homes and community based apartments, supported living arrangements and in-home supports, life sharing, and respite opportunities. In short, Elwyn offers virtually any service necessary to support any individual who wishes to live independently. According to the organization, Elwyn’s overall goal is to maximize potential, therefore their Supports for Living service programs “provide each individual the least restrictive setting with maximum opportunity for independence, based on the individual’s need for support as formally assessed with the support team.[iii]

Elwyn and M&L share a vision for housing for individuals with special needs: that vision is that the residents of housing programs are active, contributing members of the community in which they reside. Elwyn is certainly a successful example of that vision, as 90% of the 12,000 individuals that they serve are supported directly in the community. That is certainly an inspiration.

In terms of homes specifically for individuals with ASD, Elwyn supports 6 single-family homes that are home to 19 young adults with ASD, ranging from 21-31 years of age.  Each home has a staff of professional, qualified individuals who are trained to offer supports to individuals with varying support needs. Prior to move in, Elwyn staff develops a transition plan for each individual with ASD, and staff works with the family, the individual and the individual’s transition team to ensure that the transition is smooth for all involved. In addition to this, each home is designed with safety in mind, and accommodations are built/renovated based the needs of individuals with ASD – i.e. space for sensory stimulation, environmental restructuring, etc.

Elwyn housing developers also plan for more than just the physical environment of the home – as mentioned, support staff and behavioral experts are in place for all Elwyn residents. In addition to this, daily schedules and carefully structured activities are paramount to the comfort and success of Elwyn residents. According to the organization, “outcomes are developed for each home, promoting social, communication and functional living skills which decreasing challenging behaviors that inhibit a person’s ability to function at his or her fullest potential.[iv]

Would You Like More Information?

If you would like more information about Elwyn or the services that it provides, please visit the organization’s website, http://www.elwyn.org, or read about the organization on the Autism Speaks website. To contact Elwyn, individuals may fill out the organization’s online contact form.

Additionally, you can subscribe to our Independent Living Program and Housing Project database to access more information about Elwyn, as well as access information on the more than 800 independent living programs and service providers from across the United States. If you would like to learn more about the Independent Living Program and Housing database, please visit our Housing webpage, or read the blogs that we have published devoted to the topic.

Thanks so much for visiting our blog today! We hope that you have enjoyed reading about the incredibly inspirational Elwyn organization. If you have any questions regarding this program, or would like to begin the housing search for your own family member with special needs, please do not hesitate to contact us! Also, you may wish to read about M&L’s Housing Development Initiatives – we love to hear from new families and would welcome any questions or suggestions you may have.

Have a great Thursday, everyone!


[i] http://www.elwyn.org/about/

[ii] http://www.elwyn.org/about/history/

[iii] http://www.elwyn.org/services/supports_for_living/

[iv] http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/08/09/elwyn%E2%80%99s-young-adult-program-managing-obstacles-maximizing-potential

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