Women with autism have historically been under served and need special accommodations to ensure their dignity. By raising money to build a women’s home, Bittersweet is providing four women the opportunity to live in a safe and secure home. The home will provide the primary framework for the support services that enable adults with autism to become independent members of the community.
Bittersweet Farms began in the mind of a dedicated and activist school teacher, Bettye Ruth Kay, in the mid-1970s. Shortly after public law mandated equal access to an appropriate education for all persons with disabilities, Mrs. Kay was hired by Toledo Public Schools to teach a class of high school aged students with
Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Mrs. Kay visited and researched vocational programs and began incorporating ideas for projects into the vocational training portion of her class. Finally, she visited a farmstead community
in England, Somerset Court, and met with Dame Sybil Elgar, its founder.
The breadth of activity in an idyllic setting that farm living offered convinced Mrs. Kay that this was a most appropriate model for persons with autism. She realized that as her students “aged out” of school the future was bleak: consisting of few, if
any, vocational opportunities. Home options were also limited to living with aging parents or even placement in mental institutions. Understanding these implications and seeing her dream, she began organizing parents, professionals, and business members to develop a farm community in which
persons with autism could work, play, live and grow to their fullest potential. Bittersweet Farms was the first of its kind in the United States.
Bittersweet, Inc. provides residential, vocational, recreational, transitional and habilitative services for adolescents and adults with ASD at four sites (Whitehouse, Pemberville, Lima, and Middletown) in Ohio. World-renowned, Bittersweet provides supportive and well-structured programs that emphasize
meaningful activities and work, and an avenue for using special talents and abilities. The goal is to increase autonomy and selfreliance, empower choices, maximize dignity, and encourage interaction.
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