‘I need somewhere to be on my own’: Lisbon family building apartment for son with autism

ByAndria Varble

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LISBON — At 21, Dawson Martel is ready to understand how to reside on his possess.

Born with autism, it is generally been more complicated for him to achieve the same milestones as his friends.

But he’s in no way enable that quit him just before.

Explained by a lot of as a cheerful, hardworking human being, Dawson Martel was an active member of various sports activities teams and college student businesses prior to graduating from Lisbon Substantial School with his friends in 2019. He moved on to attend Central Maine Local community Faculty with scholarships in hand, but he still left quickly following noticing it wasn’t the correct in good shape for him.

Now, he works 30 hrs per 7 days concerning The Sausage Kitchen area, Frank’s Cafe and Pub, and The Inexperienced Ladle, the place he was a college student for two many years.

“He jumps in, he assists out, he does something he’s questioned,” reported Tony Austin, operator of Frank’s Restaurant and Pub.

The upcoming action, his mother and father say, is discovering to reside independently.

Dawson Martel agrees. He stated he does not want to reside with his mom and dad eternally and hopes to get his very own place “because I will need someplace to be on my personal.”

Dawson Martel looks out the window of what will be his apartment on April 29. The unit is attached to his mom and dad home in Lisbon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Kerry-Ann and Aaron Martel are developing an connected two-auto garage with a next-floor condominium for their son to move into. Due to the fact construction started out 5 months in the past, Dawson Martel has worked alongside his mom and dad, friends and contractors, using an lively role in setting up his new home.

The Martels are no strangers to the problems of residence construction. From 2003 to 2004, Kerry-Ann and Aaron Martel participated in Community Concepts’ self-assistance homeownership system, operating with 6 other households to create 7 houses, together with their individual.

Now, they want their son to have a put for himself with his aid technique close at hand.

“The aim with this is to be certain that when I can no more time supply aid to him, we have taught him how to reside on his possess and that he requires very nominal guidance, if any,” Aaron Martel said. “This is the finest way that we have appear up with.”

He acknowledged that they could have found an assisted residing method for men and women with unique wants as a substitute.

“Those are wonderful applications, but for us, for our household, that just wasn’t what we have been snug with,” he claimed. “We know that this route is genuinely the most effective thing for him.”

Bridges to Results circumstance manager Devin Flynn said Dawson Martel is an inspiration to others.

“You do not see a great deal of people who have autism, who have requirements who are operating 3 jobs and volunteering, and, I signify, he’s acquired a entire timetable,” Flynn claimed.

Jill Carson, a community electrician, and Dawson Martel, nail an electrical box on to a wall stud of his condominium in Lisbon on April 29. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“I’m not even absolutely sure how substantially Dawson is mindful, but he’s spreading awareness by like just carrying out this stuff,” he added. “As far as disability companies and things, I sense like folks are very predisposed to imagining they have this kind of a reduced ceiling or their selections are minimal. He (is) just a best case in point, like, just because you may well have to get the job done a minimal tougher does not imply that you just can’t do what you want to do.”

Inspite of an intensive aid community, it is been a tricky, costly road.

Two years ago, Aaron Martel claimed the whole construction was priced at $110,000. Immediately after refinancing their home, they’ve put $130,000 into the undertaking and have strike a standstill.

The exterior framing is accomplished, together with some inside operate, but irrespective of downsizing first designs and chopping fees, they’ve run out of cash.

From here on out, Dawson Martel and his father will perform to end the two-bedroom condominium them selves.

“It’s significant to have Dawson included since how does Dawson know he doesn’t want to be an electrician?” Aaron Martel explained. “How does Dawson know he doesn’t want to be a plumber? A contractor? You know, he may well come across that he likes working with his hands.”

Aaron Martel believed it will choose numerous a long time prior to they can entire the apartment.

Dawson Martel, entrance middle, is surrounded by his mom and dad and mates and aid network in his fifty percent-developed condominium in Lisbon on April 29. Flanking him are his parents, Kerry Ann and Aaron Martel. Kneeling in the middle is Katie Luce, director of enhancement and community engagement at Habitat for Humanity in Topsham. In back, from still left, are, Margaret Tibbetts, good friend and fundraising organizer Devin Flynn, Bridge to Achievement situation manager Jill Carson, electrician and Tony Austin, owner of Frank’s Restaurant and Pub where by Dawson operates a person of his a few positions. Russ Dillingham/Sunshine Journal

Twice a thirty day period, Dawson Martel and his mom volunteer at the ReStore in Topsham, a 2nd-hand keep for home furniture and construction supplies run by Habitat for Humanity. Donated things are 50% off at the ReStore, but volunteers get an added 25%.

It is still yet another process the Martels have identified to slice charges.

“Nobody warrants a space of their very own, like Dawson does,” explained Topsham Habitat for Humanity Director of Growth and Group Engagement Katie Luce. “He is such a tough employee. He goes out of his way to help other people today … Dawson warrants a residence, and I want to do something I can to enable.”

Two family pals, Margaret Tibbetts and Annette Wilson, established up a GoFundMe to assist them increase the dollars to finish the apartment for Dawson Martel. As of Monday, they’ve collected just below $1,000.

“They are normally the first folks when you will need aid to step up and say, what do you need, what can I do for you?” Tibbetts reported.

She recalled a time when she desired aid jump-starting her vehicle late a single night time soon after selecting up her daughter from operate. Aaron Martel, in his pajamas, was the one particular who arrived to her assist.

“They’re not the ones that asked for assistance,” Tibbetts spelled out. “We variety of claimed, ‘well, let us see what we can do. How can we help you with this?’ So to be capable to do some thing to give back again to them for anything they’ve completed for the local community, for their child, for my kids…” she claimed, trailing off.

The Martels are not picky. They mentioned they would be delighted to acquire leftover development supplies, these types of as leftover tiles, or utilised goods, like kitchen area cupboards, the moment the interior is entire.

Dawson Martel mentioned he’s thrilled to one day finish the apartment. But he’s dissatisfied that is was not completely ready on May 4, widely acknowledged as Star Wars Working day.

As an avid admirer, he desires of dwelling in a Star Wars-themed apartment. He programs to continue functioning with his mothers and fathers to end the construction until that desire can come to be a reality.


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