Our Story


Mission Statement:

AEDD empowers children and adults with disabilities to improve their quality of life by providing community-based services that maximize individual choices, personal development, community inclusion, independence and their contribution to society.

1971: Our Founding

The Organization was formed in order to provide pre-employment training, real work opportunities, recreational and leisure time activities, and development of daily living skills for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) in the Little Rock area. AEDD board members and the executive staff personally guaranteed a note for five thousand dollars to begin operations. A small abandoned one-room grocery store on the east side of Little Rock was rented and operations of the Central Arkansas Work Activity Center began serving thirteen individuals with DD.

1989: Our Early Programs

The Supported Living program was initiated. This program provides the necessary supports for an individual with DD to live in the local community, usually in their own home. This living arrangement is preferable to other alternatives (group homes, human development centers, etc.), assuming the individual can function in the home setting.

1990: Our First Facilities

AEDD applied for and received a certificate of need to develop two 10-bed intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded (ICFMR). These are community-based facilities that provide the same services as the state-operated Human Development Centers.

1992-1993: AEDD Takes Form

The City of Little Rock and AEDD partnered to fund acquisition of three homes in various communities of Little Rock, and AEDD purchased two additional homes, one in Sherwood and one in Maumelle. Each of these homes provide housing and ancillary supports for two or three individuals with DD. Each of he homes has a live-in caregiver.

Our First Homes

AEDD had the opportunity through funding by the State of Arkansas to develop residential services for individuals with DD in a congregate living arrangement. A home in the Quapaw District of Little Rock was purchased in 1972 to serve ten individuals. In addition to providing a home environment, the home allowed skill development in the areas of cooking, cleaning, budget management, shopping, and socialization. In 1974, an additional home became available in the same area. AEDD purchased this home and developed a program similar to the first home. The second home serves twelve individuals.

The Supported Employement Program

AEDD implemented the "Supported Employment" program. In this program, staff of AEDD contacts local businesses for the purpose of placing individuals with DD in competitive employment. Once a job opportunity is identified, an individual is trained in the task or tasks required for the job. The individuals are placed on-site at the local business. AEDD staff provides on-site training and ongoing job coaching to assure the individuals' success in maintaining the competitive employment.

1996: Our Roles Expand

AEDD was requested by the State of Arkansas to become a "911 Civil Commitment" provider. This program provides community alternatives for individuals that are DD or mentally ill (or dually diagnosed) that have been either convicted of a crime or otherwise been involved with the courts and who otherwise would be incarcerated. AEDD has become the leading provider of this difficult service for the State of Arkansas.

2000: Joining Forces

AEDD partnered with the City of Little Rock to fund the building of two additional homes in Little Rock. One provides supported living for three individuals. The second is a home specifically designed to serve four individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome, a severe eating disorder. This home is the only home in the state specifically designed for this service.

2000-2002: Continued Growth

The workshop was expanded from the existing building of approximately 5,000 square feet to a workshop of approximately 76,000 square feet. This addition resulted in increasing the number of individuals served from sixty to approximately two hundred in the course of two years. AEDD also began providing physical, occupational and speech therapy for individuals served in the workshop. AEDD partnered with Harbor View Mercy Hospital in Ft. Smith to provide mental health services to individuals with DD through the "Rehabilitative Services for People with Mental Illness" program.

2002-2005: A New Millennium

AEDD applied for and became a licensed by the Arkansas Department of Rehabilitation as a Community Rehabilitation Program that evaluates and trains individuals for competitive employment. Once trained, AEDD secures competitive employment for individuals that are successful in completing the training. AEDD partnered with the North Little Rock School System and the City of North Little Rock to develop a children's learning center in North Little Rock. The North Little Rock school, McRae Elementary, was renovated and operational in September 2002. This facility serves both disabled and non-disabled children from ages birth to five. Programs offered at the preschool allows the birth to five year old child with developmental disabilities to receive individualized services. In addition to preschool curriculum, additional services are offered as prescribed by the child’s physician.

2005-Present: Where We Are Now

AEDD partnered with Pathfinders to provide mental health services to individuals with disabilities. The Landers Skills Training Center added four classrooms for the adult clients. Special areas include a large arts and crafts room to work on and display daily projects, sensory room designed to meet the needs of clients with autism, computer/game lab for recreation, and a room to meet the needs of our senior clients. These unique rooms offer the opportunity to provide extra services to our clients by increasing independence, enhancing interest, and helping maintain their functioning levels. Individuals in the senior class receive services geared toward improving skills to keep their bodies and mind active as they age. Additional services include activities such exercises for the elderly, book club meetings, games for seniors, and relaxation time to allow for increased social, vocational, emotional, and educational functioning. AEDD continues to grow and expanded in 2011 with the addition of a 10,000 s.f. Multipurpose Center that includes additional office space, commercial kitchen and 2,000 s.f. open activity area. The center will provide adequate space and amenities to hold monthly activities for our adult clients, plus meetings, training sessions and special events throughout the year. The multi-purpose facility is located at 105 E. Roosevelt Rd. at the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt in Little Rock (SoMa/Quapaw area) behind our central office complex.