The lion’s share of services for those affected by autism is directed at early intervention and those under the age of 21. A Philadelphia College has launched an initiative to address the increasing need for services for the adult population with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
“There is very little right now in terms of services when you reach 21” says Paul Haughton, Ph.D., chief psychologist at CORA Services “We’re focusing on children, rightfully so, but as they move into adulthood and turn 21 it’s almost like they drop off a cliff in terms of organized systematic services for them.”
There is an increasing push for services to support those with autism in transitioning into the workplace. ICare4Autism is establishing the world’s first comprehensive autism workforce development initiative in Jerusalem which will encompass workforce entry services for high school students with autism, post-transition supportive services, vocational and employment services, and a targeted program to place persons with Asperger’s Syndrome in technology sector jobs.
ICare4Autism endeavors to spotlight other organizations that are doing similar work. Chestnut Hill College has launched an academic and community initiative to address the rising need for more services for the growing ASD adult population. The most recent state census estimated the number of adults with ASD in Pennsylvania will rise from 3,800 in 2010 to more than 10,000 in 2014.
“There’s clearly a dramatic need for cost effective programs for adults,” said Steven Guerriero, Ph.D., dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “With this initiative, we’re developing a unique and beneficial niche.”
A new focus in the Clinical and Counseling Psychology program will concentrate on ASD across the lifespan. The four courses may also be taken as a post-graduate certificate or licensure preparation credits.
A new 12-credit professional certificate focused on the needs of adults with ASD will also be available in the fall. It is geared to professionals in various human services positions, including those in the medical, employment, education, and public safety fields. The course will look at current and historical research and quality-of-life and family issues faced by adults with ASD.
The College is hoping to expand the initiative to develop public outreach activities and direct-services programs for adults with ASD.