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SWEETWATER SPECTRUM FOUNDING PRINCIPLES

  • 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



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 has experienced a high level of success and resident satisfaction, which results in few openings becoming available. We are still accepting applications and giving campus tours, which are offered the 4th Tuesday of every month beginning at 11:00 am. To schedule a tour, please email us HERE.

Admission update: Sweetwater currently does have one opening for an adult female to join 3 roommates in one of our residence houses, and the organization is considering future expansion. See links below to obtain an overview of our application process and our application form:

Replicating Our Model

Nationwide, there are few housing choices available for adults with autism or similar intellectual/developmental disabilities. Our model, with its first campus in Sonoma, uniquely encompasses a “life with purpose” for its residents and can provide a lifelong home. The need for this new model is substantial as Sweetwater Spectrum regularly responds to inquiries about our approach from all over the world.

Our biggest news this year is that our founding goal of developing a replicable model is being realized! We now have developed a full package of lessons-learned documents and other resources to help inform, encourage, and enable the establishment of future communities under the Sweetwater model, including:

  1. Sample Articles of Incorporation
  2. Sample Bylaws
  3. Resident Application Process Document
  4. Sample Residential Lease Application
  5. Sample Residential Lease Agreement
  6. Sample Community Activities Agreement
  7. Sample Employee Handbook
  8. Sample Investment Policy
  9. Sample Volunteer Handbook
  10. Sweetwater Spectrum, Documenting a Supported Living Model
  11. Sweetwater Spectrum: A Community with Purpose Case Study
  12. Financial Requirements Description Document
  13. Replication Approach Presentation

If you are interested in replicating the Sweetwater Spectrum model in your community, please contact Sweetwater Spectrum Executive Director Kory Stradinger HERE.

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.