• Celebrate and support the full range of autism spectrum disorders
  • Encourage active resident involvement in their home, household, neighborhood and surrounding communities
  • Provide access to productive enriching choices that support a life with purpose
  • Utilize autism-specific design, which addresses both safety and sensory issues
  • Nurture high-value relationships between residents, families and support staff
  • Create and foster a model that can be replicated nationwide
  • Offer the potential for lifetime residency
  • Accommodate a broad financial spectrum

Across the United States, 500,000 individuals with autism are aging into adulthood. Today, children have a 1 in 68 chance of being diagnosed with autism. Sonoma is providing leadership in addressing the housing needs of this underserved population through its welcoming support of Sweetwater Spectrum, a model community for adults with autism and other related developmental disorders.

A question universally on the minds of parents of children with autism is, “How will my child be cared for when I am no longer able?” Sweetwater Spectrum is working hard to provide a solution.

Sweetwater Spectrum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring, building and evaluating an innovative housing model for adults with autism. It has developed and now manages a supported living community in Sonoma, California.  This model includes an enrichment program intended to foster both individual choice and community engagement to provide a “life with purpose”. We embrace residents on the full spectrum of autism and support all financial capabilities.

Sonoma - Our First Campus

Hammock outdoors in between trees
Close up view of plants growing
Teepee outdoors in a field

Sweetwater Spectrum’s pilot project is located in the city of Sonoma and opened in 2013.  The site is 2.79 acres and is located 4 blocks west of the city’s downtown plaza, encouraging local community integration.  The campus includes:

  • Four 4-bedroom homes for sixteen participants, with the ability for future expansion.
  • A community center – a single-level 2,300 square foot, common house – integrates a community space, kitchen, exercise studio, media room, and a library.
  • A 1.25 acre organic farm, SONOMA FARM @ Sweetwater Spectrum [link to farm site], has an energy-efficient greenhouse and provides opportunities for physical skill development and healthy eating. The greenhouse grows and distributes microgreens to  local and bay area restaurants year-round.  The farm also sells produce through on-site and local farmers markets.
  • An outdoor pool and 2 hot tubs.
  • Enrichment programs and opportunities are provided on site, and coordinated off-site. They are tailored to our residents’ individual needs, encouraging choice and community. Through personal choice, we foster a life with purpose for our residents.

Supported Living Model

The supported living model of Sweetwater Spectrum is based on co-housing, and offers choice to its residents with individual, customized and flexible programs, supporting life skills training, continuing education, gardening, art/music, exercise and healthy lifestyles.  The Sweetwater Spectrum site was designed to meet the specific needs of those with autism. The site was built to LEED gold specifications and is environmentally sustainable wherever possible. This includes solar panels, an energy efficient HVAC system and storm water management with bio swales.

Admission to Sweetwater

Since opening in 2013, Sweetwater was designed as a permanent home for our residents. While some turnover still occurs, in general openings are infrequent.

We do maintain and accept applications — when a spot becomes available, we look for the best fit for a new resident to join their existing roommates.

If your family has interest in applying, we suggest you start by viewing our virtual tour video and reviewing the information on our website.

Virtual Tour

See also the links below to obtain an overview of our application process and our application form.

You may complete and submit an application form at any time and it will be kept on file. Note there is a $50 processing fee.


Beginning in May of 2021, we plan to resume giving monthly public tours, which run for 1 hour and are offered on the last Tuesday of every month beginning at 11:00 am.

If you are unable to join for the monthly public tour, private tours can be arranged on a mutually acceptable date. There is a fee associated with private tours.

The private tour and Q&A would run for a 2 hour duration.

To schedule a tour, please email us:



Creating Housing

Sweetwater Spectrum regularly responds to inquiries from all over the world about our approach to housing for adults with autism and similar developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Please explore our free resources and learn about our consulting services on our Creating Housing page.

Creating Housing

369 Fifth Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 996-3104

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Sweetwater Spectrum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and not a private foundation.