Today, let’s talk. I’m going to be talking about why we need to be talking about autism and adulthood. I know a lot of talking right? But this is an important topic to me for a number of reasons and I know they’ll resonate with you too. As a sister, I’m watching my two brothers with autism spectrum disorder grow up – they’re both adults now. Tanner turned 18 last November and Tyler is 26. As a professional, I’m watching a population of clients/former clients/individual on the spectrum grow up and become adults. Now I’m feeling old!
But let’s get into this… I can’t promise it’s going to be pretty, but it pretty dang important to talk about. Here’s why…
Kids with autism ARE growing up.
I know I mentioned this above, but I’ve got the numbers to back me up! According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the prevalence rate if autism spectrum disorder is 1 in 59 here in the United States. Now, this rate was taken by sampling eight-year-olds across the country, a number of years ago. As of this year, this sample is approaching their teen years. They’re almost adults! This number of individuals with autism about to stake their claim in adulthood in a year or so. Ack! Are we even ready for this? I’m not talking about at the “oh my gosh, I can’t believe the kids are grown up” ready – I mean “hey do we even have the supports and resources they need – ready for this?”
And that answer is no. We’re all not ready for this, and neither are they.
Adults with autism are struggling.
It’s becoming more well-known that individuals with autism are really struggling in adulthood. They are more likely to have poor outcomes after high school in comparison to their peers with and without disabilities. They need more support and preparation beforehand while in high school, and in conjunction while they are adults. So, they should be able to reach out for help, right?
There is limited support and services for adults and their families.
I know, I’m not giving you a break! But this is absolutely true. This is a huge problem for adults with autism and their parents and families. Most of our autism services are centered on younger kids with autism. But the most costly services are in adulthood.
These are just a few reasons why we need to talk about and focus on autism and adulthood. I know, it’s a bit harrowing, intimidating, and even scary…but the more we talk about it, the more people will know what is going on. The more people that know what is going on the more they’ll reach out, and the more resources, time and, money will be spent on this. I know, a lot of “more”. Ultimately, we’re asking for a shift in focus. Something one of my professors likes to say, “to begin with the end in mind.”