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Woman builds autistic brother house in her back garden

“He absolutely loves it and the change has been incredible."

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By Emma Dunn via SWNS

A woman built her autistic brother a house in her back garden for $14,695 and says it’s been a "game-changer" to give him the independence he needs.

Tiffany Chou, 36, moved back to Maui, Hawaii in 2019 from New York City to look after her brother, Chris, 33, after hearing that he was unhappy in his residential home.

The siblings - who are both adopted - hadn’t lived together for 15 years, so Tiffany was apprehensive about what it would be like as she says Chris’ behavior could be "challenging."

Tiffany and her boyfriend, Erin Reid, 38, an artist, decided to build Chris a cottage in their back garden.

Erin managed to put the structure together for just under $15,000 and built it in three months.

Chris moved in in August 2022 and is "in love" with his new home.

The space is equipped to suit his needs - such as a bathroom and a water tank right next to his bedroom - as Chris is often thirsty in the night.

His kitchen has induction hob to make sure it’s not left on and he has his food portioned up in his fridge.

The home has given Chris a newfound independence and means Tiffany and Erin still have their own space - which is essential after welcoming their daughter, Luna, in September 2022.

Tiffany, an accessory designer, from Maui said: “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I moved back and took in Chris.

“It took us a while to work out the best solution for him living with us.

“He can be a bit noisy and overwhelming so we decided if he had his own independent space, just seconds from us, that would be ideal.

“He absolutely loves it and the change has been incredible.

“He’ll do his dishes without prompting.

“It’s really helped him be more independent.”

Tiffany moved back to Hawaii in 2019 and decided to take in her brother, Chris, after realizing he was unhappy in his residential home.

“We hadn’t lived together since we were teenagers and I knew his behaviors might have changed,” she said.

“He’s a little noisy and can be overwhelming.

“We were thinking of a solution and decided to build him a little cottage.

“There was a little structure in our garden that Erin tore down and built up again from scratch.”

Chris got to chose the colors of his house and helped out initially with the build.

After three months of constructing, Chris was able to move in to the home in August 2022.

“It’s fit for his quirks,” Tiffany said.

“Chris is the thirstiest person you have ever met so he is constantly up in the night drinking water and needing the toilet.

“So we made sure his bathroom and some water was right by his bed.

“We also had an induction hob fitted so he can’t forget to turn it off.

“We help him meal prep as he doesn’t have any self control with food.

“But it’s been a game-changer for all of us - having an independent space for Chris.”

The home was built out of reclaimed materials, and fitted with second-hand furniture to keep the costs low.

“Chris has the personality of a five or six-year-old but having his home as really helped his independence,” Tiffany said.

“I don’t have to constantly prompt him to do stuff anymore.

“He loves being an uncle and is great with Luna.”

Tiffany has also set up depot market - a business providing creative and social job opportunities for adults with disabilities - like Chris.

“The name is inspired by Chris’ story as he was found left in a market,” she said.

“We want to hire more adults like Chris to give them opportunities.”

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