A woman has built a small house for her brother in her garden and says it has been a game-changer by giving him the independence he needs.
Tiffany Chou returned to Hawaii from New York to care for her 33-year-old brother, who has autism, after hearing he was unhappy in his residence.
The siblings, who are both adopted, hadn’t lived together in 15 years, so Tiffany was worried about what it would be like because Chris’ behavior might be “difficult”.
To better cope with this, the 36-year-old sister and her boyfriend decided to build Chris his own cabin in their backyard after moving to Maui.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I came back and welcomed Chris,” the prop designer said. “He can be a bit loud and overwhelming, so we decided if he had his own independent space, seconds away from us, that would be ideal.”
There was a small structure in their backyard, which they tore down to start construction – and she and her boyfriend managed to build the cabin for just $15,000.
Chris was able to choose the colors of his house and first helped with the construction, which was completed in three months.
In August he moved in and is now loving his new digs.
“He loves it, and the change has been amazing,” says Tiffany.
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“He will do his dishes without being asked. It really helped him to be more independent.
They also outfitted the house specifically for its quirks.
“Chris is the thirstiest person you’ll ever meet, so he’s constantly up at night, drinking water and needing to go to the toilet. So we made sure his bathroom and a tank of water were right next to his bed.”
His kitchen has an induction cooktop to make sure it doesn’t stay on, and Tiffany prepares his food in advance, in daily portions, which he keeps in his fridge.
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The house, which was built from scrap materials and outfitted with second-hand furniture to keep costs down, has given Chris newfound independence. (See the house in the video below.) And Tiffany and her boyfriend have their own space, which is essential, especially since they welcomed their new daughter, Luna, last month.
“He loves being an uncle and is great with Luna.”
“It’s been a game-changer for all of us – I don’t have to constantly push him to do things anymore.
Meanwhile, Tiffany is poised to make a big difference to the wider community. She set up a new employment service for adults with disabilities. Depo Market provides creative and social employment opportunities to help adults like Chris live more independently.
Watch a short video showing Chris in his new pad…
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