Breakthrough FAQ: 

What is Breakthrough?

Started by parents of adults with autism, Breakthrough was envisioned to provide services that enable adults with autism to lead purposeful lives. Since you might be new to our site or don’t know our mission statement, we wanted to make a simple blog breaking down what we do and why we do it. This is a resource for you to answer your most common questions!

What does Breakthrough provide?

Breakthrough provides personal assistance, 24/7 or as needed residential support services, Employment Services (Exploration, Discovery, Job Training, Internships, Placement, Retention), Community Based Services as well as support groups for Asperger’s members, Respite and Recreation, Personal Funds Management, Sensory Room, Independent Living Services, Supported Living, Referral and Advocacy, and more.

How is Breakthrough special?

We are the only Autism-focused agency for adults in Tennessee.

What is care like through Breakthrough?

We pride ourselves in people-centered, community-focused service that helps individuals stay active in their lifestyles.

What does housing look like?

You should take a tour of one of our homes! But the majority of them are 3 bd 3ba homes in South Knoxville, some other homes are outliers. We are still actively looking for new and affordable homes for the people that we support that need housing or community living support.

Why does Breakthrough have fundraisers?

We have fundraisers to raise awareness for our community. Through increased awareness, we also are able to make up for some shortfalls in our primarily state-funded budget.

What role do donors and clients have in Breakthrough?

Donors are by far one of the most important ways we raise awareness. Most have a connection to autism in some way. They support our agency not only monetarily, but with time and networking resources as well. Clients (we call them Persons Supported) are our ‘why’. If there was not a need for those individuals that we support and people like them, then there is no Breakthrough.

What projects are upcoming for Breakthrough?

We have our serenity/sensory garden that we are in the process of creating, if you would like to be a part of that project, please read our next blog page to learn more. We also have continued housing development, as well as wrapping up on a capital campaign.

Through all of our services, we offer our care, community, and continued partnership with our members. We hope that this blog gave you more insight into what we do here at Breakthrough.  

                  Sensory Gardens 101:

Sensory Gardens and Serenity Spaces. You might hear the term tossed around in conversation, books, or resources, but what is it really? And why should it be important to our community? This blog has resources and information explaining the fundamental aspects of sensory gardens and answers your questions on why it is important. Read along and explore what a sensory garden is, how sensory and serenity spaces are useful, and ways you can get involved with creating a sensory garden for the community!

What Are Sensory Gardens?

Sensory Gardens are places where an individual’s sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound are activated with the purpose of stimulating the senses in a controlled environment. This occurs through different types of plants, features, and designs that are focused on engaging each sense in a different way. It also stimulates one’s haptic sense or the awareness of the body in a space.

By including objects that promote stimulation to all five senses as well as the sixth area to promote serenity, it allows individuals to be able to use the garden in a variety of ways:

  1. To promote sight there is the aesthetically pleasing placement of the garden

  2. To promote sound there could be water features, xylophone panels, wind chime panels, and drum panels.

  3. To promote taste there will be an herb garden with edible herbs. Also, vegetables will grow in a designated area (the “taste” zone) of the garden.

  4. Sense of touch will be met through a wide variety of different walking paths that provide a different feel as you move along, this may include rocks, brick, grass, woodchips, etc.

  5. To promote the sense of smell there will be plants that release different smells around the garden as well as special grass in the walking path that will release a calming aroma when walked upon.

  6. To promote serenity, there will be an area towards the back that will consist of a pergola (or a sunshade), a sitting area, and a removable fireplace. This area can be used for reflection, meditation, decompression, as well as an area to socialize with friends.

Why are Sensory Gardens Important?

Sensory Gardens are a relaxing and intriguing activity, allowing whoever uses them to be exposed to an environment that is non-threatening while also stimulating each sense for a developmental and therapeutic experience. Having the sensory input can benefit the individuals by allowing them to meet their sensory needs by calming and/or engaging their senses in an appropriate way.

Sensory Gardens are not a passive space, these are areas that one should be interacting with and working one’s way through, connecting with their senses through a plant, space or activity provided. For individuals with under-stimulated senses, a sensory garden is a perfect place to have all 6 major senses heighten. For individuals with hypersensitive senses, a sensory garden is a space that they can gradually expose themselves to their senses, allowing them to engage with the environment and themselves in a calm, controlled process.

What Is Breakthrough Doing?

Breakthrough has begun to develop a serenity garden that is available to the persons supported by the agency to have a place to participate in sensory stimulation, relaxation, and socialization. Our dream garden consists of 5 "stations" to stimulate each sense plus a reflection/serene seating area as well as a working garden to where our individuals can grow their own fruits and vegetables. The garden will also serve as a way for the persons supported to give back to the community, as they will be able to help grow vegetables and upkeep the garden. There will also be a quiet area to allow for reflection and meditation.

The "dream" costs over $60,000! However, $3,000 will go a long way in laying a foundation for a working garden as well as specialized equipment and activity areas to help our individuals have a nice, serene space as well as a place they can go outdoors to help decompress. The garden plot is already available with some donated material, however, there is a fundraising push happening in order to complete the desired project.

To help fund this project, Breakthrough would appreciate any small investment that you could make into the development and growth of its members. The fundraising goal is set at $3,000 with $245 already donated! We have been able to begin adding benches, stations, and activities to the plot, but would appreciate any investment you could make in our community!

In order to receive fundraising, Breakthrough has a donation platform that you can contribute to on our social media accounts, as well as a direct donation to Breakthrough’s office.

To donate online to our sensory garden project, visit our Facebook page under the Fundraisers tab and begin investing in our community!