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


LISBON — At 21, Dawson Martel is all set to master how to dwell on his possess.

Born with autism, it is often been additional tricky for him to achieve the same milestones as his friends.

But he’s never ever let that quit him ahead of.

Explained by several as a cheerful, hardworking human being, Dawson Martel was an lively member of various sports groups and pupil corporations just before graduating from Lisbon Large Faculty with his peers in 2019. He moved on to show up at Central Maine Local community School with scholarships in hand, but he left soon after recognizing it was not the appropriate in shape for him.

Now, he performs 30 hrs for every 7 days between The Sausage Kitchen, Frank’s Restaurant and Pub, and The Green Ladle, in which he was a pupil for two a long time.

“He jumps in, he allows out, he does just about anything he’s questioned,” explained Tony Austin, operator of Frank’s Cafe and Pub.

The future step, his mothers and fathers say, is discovering to stay independently.

Dawson Martel agrees. He claimed he doesn’t want to stay with his mom and dad eternally and hopes to get his possess put “because I require somewhere to be on my possess.”

Dawson Martel appears out the window of what will be his apartment on April 29. The device is hooked up to his mother and father house in Lisbon. Russ Dillingham/Solar Journal

Kerry-Ann and Aaron Martel are developing an attached two-car garage with a second-flooring apartment for their son to move into. Because construction commenced 5 months in the past, Dawson Martel has worked along with his mothers and fathers, close friends and contractors, having an energetic purpose in building his new home.

The Martels are no strangers to the difficulties of house development. From 2003 to 2004, Kerry-Ann and Aaron Martel participated in Local community Concepts’ self-assistance homeownership system, performing with 6 other families to develop 7 residences, together with their very own.

Now, they want their son to have a area for himself with his support system shut at hand.

“The aim with this is to make certain that when I can no for a longer period present assistance to him, we have taught him how to are living on his have and that he needs quite minimum support, if any,” Aaron Martel said. “This is the finest way that we have arrive up with.”

He acknowledged that they could have observed an assisted residing plan for persons with special requires rather.

“Those are fantastic courses, but for us, for our spouse and children, that just wasn’t what we had been relaxed with,” he claimed. “We know that this route is definitely the best matter for him.”

Bridges to Good results case supervisor Devin Flynn explained Dawson Martel is an inspiration to other people.

“You really don’t see a great deal of folks who have autism, who have demands who are functioning a few jobs and volunteering, and, I imply, he’s acquired a total schedule,” Flynn said.

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

“I’m not even absolutely sure how a lot Dawson is mindful, but he’s spreading awareness by like just carrying out this stuff,” he added. “As far as incapacity providers and things, I come to feel like persons are very predisposed to contemplating they have such a very low ceiling or their options are minimal. He (is) just a best instance, like, just since you may have to operate a tiny more difficult does not indicate that you just can’t do what you want to do.”

Even with an substantial guidance network, it’s been a hard, pricey highway.

Two decades in the past, Aaron Martel reported the overall building was priced at $110,000. Soon after refinancing their household, they’ve place $130,000 into the undertaking and have strike a standstill.

The exterior framing is carried out, alongside with some inside work, but inspite of downsizing first strategies and reducing costs, they’ve operate out of cash.

From here on out, Dawson Martel and his father will do the job to end the two-bed room condominium them selves.

“It’s essential to have Dawson concerned for the reason that how does Dawson know he doesn’t want to be an electrician?” Aaron Martel mentioned. “How does Dawson know he does not want to be a plumber? A contractor? You know, he may locate that he likes working with his arms.”

Aaron Martel approximated it will get several years in advance of they can complete the apartment.

Dawson Martel, entrance heart, is surrounded by his mothers and fathers and buddies and help network in his 50 %-designed apartment in Lisbon on April 29. Flanking him are his mom and dad, Kerry Ann and Aaron Martel. Kneeling in the middle is Katie Luce, director of growth and group engagement at Habitat for Humanity in Topsham. In back again, from remaining, are, Margaret Tibbetts, close friend and fundraising organizer Devin Flynn, Bridge to Accomplishment situation manager Jill Carson, electrician and Tony Austin, owner of Frank’s Cafe and Pub wherever Dawson operates one particular of his 3 employment. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Twice a thirty day period, Dawson Martel and his mother volunteer at the ReStore in Topsham, a second-hand retail store for furniture and construction provides run by Habitat for Humanity. Donated merchandise are 50% off at the ReStore, but volunteers receive an additional 25%.

It is but a different method the Martels have discovered to slice expenses.

“Nobody deserves a place of their very own, like Dawson does,” claimed Topsham Habitat for Humanity Director of Development and Neighborhood Engagement Katie Luce. “He is these kinds of a tricky worker. He goes out of his way to assistance other individuals … Dawson warrants a home, and I want to do just about anything I can to help.”

Two household friends, Margaret Tibbetts and Annette Wilson, set up a GoFundMe to enable them raise the dollars to end the apartment for Dawson Martel. As of Monday, they’ve gathered just under $1,000.

“They are always the initial folks when you have to have enable to phase up and say, what do you will need, what can I do for you?” Tibbetts mentioned.

She recalled a time when she necessary assist jump-starting her car or truck late one particular evening just after selecting up her daughter from perform. Aaron Martel, in his pajamas, was the one who came to her support.

“They’re not the ones that requested for enable,” Tibbetts stated. “We kind of stated, ‘well, let us see what we can do. How can we assist you with this?’ So to be capable to do something to give back again to them for every thing they’ve done for the group, for their child, for my kids…” she reported, trailing off.

The Martels are not picky. They mentioned they would be delighted to receive leftover development supplies, this sort of as leftover tiles, or used things, like kitchen cabinets, after the inside is entire.

Dawson Martel reported he’s excited to 1 working day end the condominium. But he’s dissatisfied that is was not completely ready on Might 4, commonly regarded as Star Wars Day.

As an avid lover, he dreams of residing in a Star Wars-themed apartment. He strategies to carry on performing with his mother and father to end the design until finally that aspiration can turn out to be a truth.


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