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Advocating for Inclusive Residential Communities: A Conversation with Denise Resnick

Written by: Lauren Strait

In a recent episode of “Health Futures,” the insightful podcast hosted by Bob Roth, co-founder of Cypress HomeCare Solutions in Phoenix, we had the pleasure of welcoming fellow advocate Denise Resnick. Denise Resnick, known as the founder of First Place AZ, is dedicated to expanding independent living options for adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities. Their conversation sheds light on the journey of creating inclusive residential communities.

To listen to the full podcast download on any of these sites:

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You can also watch and listen to the full episode on our YouTube Channel here: https://youtu.be/PZr5yoWDvfs

Denise Resnick’s remarkable story began when she co-founded the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) in 1997, driven by her son Matt’s autism diagnosis. Her commitment to addressing the lack of appropriate residential options led to the establishment of First Place AZ in 2012. In 2018, First Place opened its signature Phoenix property, offering a consumer-driven community for adults with autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities, providing them with the opportunity to live as independently as possible.

With over 60 residents calling these thoughtfully designed apartments “home,” First Place also runs a 2-year transitional program for young adults and an institute to share best practices globally.

During her appearance on Health Futures, Denise Resnick emphasized that First Place’s mission is to empower neurodiverse individuals by expanding their choices and building their skills. This approach not only enhances their quality of life but also reduces lifetime care costs.

Bob Roth acknowledged how Resnick’s passion has transformed metro Phoenix into the world’s most autism-friendly city. Their conversation delved into Resnick’s inspiring journey, from advocating for her son to uplifting an entire community.

Key insights shared on Health Futures included:

Prioritizing residents’ wants and abilities, in addition to clinical needs
Fostering independence through experiential learning
Removing barriers to healthcare, jobs, housing, and inclusion
Denise Resnick also highlighted First Place’s partnerships with organizations like Creighton University, creating opportunities for residents to learn and grow. She shared the heartwarming story of her son Matt, who operates a biscotti business that employs other neurodivergent individuals.

Ultimately, Resnick’s mission is to create a marketplace of housing options as robust as the choices available to older adults, demonstrating that strategic support in early adulthood leads to greater independence later in life.

To gain further insights on advocating for inclusive residential communities, we invite you to listen to this inspiring edition of Health Futures. For additional resources on senior care and neurodiverse housing, visit www.cypresshomecare.com and www.firstplaceaz.org.

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