Mission Statement

Alternatives for People with Autism, Inc. (“Alternatives”) is governed by a Board of Directors who, because we despised and feared an otherwise hopeless future for Minnesotans with autism, banded together with a covenant to create the first real living options in Minnesota for people severely afflicted with the devastating developmental disability known as autism.

Beginning informally in 1978 as a serious study group, Alternatives was formally incorporated in 1980 as a non-profit, tax-exempt (501{c}{3}) educational and charitable organization.

Emerging as an effective task force, our mission has been joined and enhanced by other community citizens of dedication and skill, many of whom have generously participated in various critical activities of our organization.

Our imperative, we feel, is that of demonstrating to all the feasibility of making real, for the first time, the options necessary for people severely disabled by autism to realize the dignity of opportunity and growth.

“I am a full-time graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. When I graduate next year I’ll be a speech-language pathologist. As a supervisor at APA, I was sent to professional training sessions on interesting topics that were beneficial to my work at APA and relevant to my future career. APA was a great environment to learn about and practice person-centered care.” -Jessica Sheldon


Our mission is working to improve the options and opportunities for persons with autism. We take pride in the innovative programmatic practices we have developed and implemented in the areas of program services data management. We recognize that effective hiring and supervision of program service staff, while utilizing innovative and ongoing training improves the quality of care. Through the use of CappsDATA, we develop programmatic interventions in resident care including individual affect, monitoring the use of psychoactive medications, direct-care supports, and services.

The first dream of creating a residential service was realized in September of 1982, with the opening of “Shingle Creek Option”. It serves 15 men and women with habilitation programming, family and community participation, and gentle living in a place to call home. Alternatives takes great pride in the quality of life provided throughout Shingle Creek Option by employing staff with extraordinary skill and commitment.

In 1987, we began providing short term residential services to children in our “Little House” site. Over several years, children came for short “respite” or “crisis” stays and were unable to find suitable long term residential services. Our children’s program has evolved into a long-term, foster home/waiver site for 4 young men. We are pleased with the high quality services provided in this site, which evolved in response to individual needs.

Alternatives has developed the CappsDATA computer-aided process to support its direct-care services and program management, dramatically altering and enhancing the way in which our services are designed, administered, tracked and analyzed.

 The Future

We at Alternatives for People with Autism, Inc. will continue to strive to give the best possible care to those with autism. We will continue to provide opportunities, programming uniquely suited for each individual based on current research, and the best care for all of the residents.

We believe that the strength of Alternatives lies in operating with corporate responsibility, without compromise, with the human ideals that underpin our motivation for existence. Though committed as advocates to radical change, our strategy is not radical in that we seek to use existing mechanisms, both governmental and private, to accomplish our goals. We intend to remain strong because the work thus far accomplished is very little of that which must yet be done.

Regardless of the uncertainty of the social service delivery system for people with developmental disabilities, there will remain the basic invariants of social and human principle to which we have become irrevocably committed. Our era has potential for dignity for all people. We have shown that it need not, as in the past, offer people who are severely disabled by autism only the opportunity to miserable and abbreviated lives.

In this continuing effort, our voices have joined the great chorus of collective humanity in the ancient and most vital of human struggles.