Ashton and Betts McCombs founded SLS Community in 2016 to create an community with the supportive resources for neurodiverse adults to flourish, interact meaningfully with the broader community and find their own path to self-actualization. Their daughter, Anna, who is now a young adult, is on the autism spectrum and requires intense support to manage her behavioral concerns.
The lack of comprehensive services in Arkansas and nationwide caused the family to place Anna out of state at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and the May Institute in Boston for four years away from home. Throughout that journey, they met countless families, many single-parent households, who had little to no resources for their adult child. Most struggled financially and too often felt at a loss on how to best support their child and take care of their family. SLS is committed to taking a percentage of the hardest to place adults, a dynamic that often stretches a family’s ability to cope on a day-to-day basis.
Like any parents, Ashton and Betts were struck by the disparity between the opportunities afforded Anna’s siblings and the lack of supportive services and infrastructure for Anna and other neurodiverse individuals to reach their full potential.
This journey stirred Ashton and Betts to create SLS Community in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This project is grounded in their personal experience, as well as the experience of other families they have met. The McCombs family considers Anna to be the true “Founder” of SLS Community.
Ashton passed away from a malignant brain tumor in November 2021. Ashton was a loving father and husband, a visionary leader, and an uncompromising champion of the neurodiverse population. He did not accept the current paradigm of services, opportunities, and inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities, especially those with behavioral issues. Ashton was also “Anna’s person” and had a calming effect on her like nobody else.
Although Ashton will not see SLS Community realized from an earthly perspective, the McCombs family and many incredible partners are devoted to building on the groundwork he laid and making his dream for Anna a reality for many.