Building a Brighter Future for People with Autism in Naperville

A local family is making progress on their goal to help their son living with special needs.

The Koupal family’s backyard has been transformed after a few months of work and determination to give 24-year-old Luke Koupal the means to live independently as he grows up with autism.

“He’s a young man, he wants his own life and wants to hang out with peers and he couldn’t do that in our home,” said Matt Koupal, Luke’s Father.

After receiving approval from the city to build a separate living space attached to their home back in August, the Koupals got to work constructing a space ideal for parents and necessary for Luke.

“We struck upon the idea of letting him stay in his own house, in his own room, with his dog, and bring in roommates and staff to support him within our current home. And then my bride and I, we’re building this addition, this will be our retirement place, where we will live up into our senior years, so that we can be close and kind of support him and the other guys in the house, but yet have that freedom that we haven’t had for a really long time,” said Matt Koupal.

Each space will have everything necessary for living independently, including their own kitchens, bedrooms, and living room space.

But Luke’s part of the house will have additional roommates and caregivers with the help of local disability support group the Ray Graham Association.

“Luke and others that are living with Luke are at the center of that process, of learning about who they are, where they see themselves being in the future, what they want in their life, and how we can help them to grow. So what we would do then, is to customize a staffing support plan to help them have the days that they want to have, and to go the places that they want to go to, hopefully achieve the dreams that they have so that’s pretty exciting,” said Kim Zoeller, President & CEO of the Ray Graham Association.

While funding for this new type of living situation still must be approved by the state, the Koupals and the Ray Graham Association hope it’s the start of a whole new way of living for people with autism.

“I’m not familiar with anyone who’s doing anything quite like it, so it’s an option for other people,” said Matt Koupal.

“It’s families like the Koupals who have created their own concept and are moving the state forward. I really think that they’re becoming the new advocates for families and it’s really exciting for the Ray Graham Association to be apart of that,” said Zoeller.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of August with an open house planned.

Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.

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