Concerns Arise as Children with Autism Grow Into Adults

autism adult services

Over the past several years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of autism diagnoses. Currently, one in every sixty-eight children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. While there has been much debate in the field of autism research regarding the validity of these diagnoses, experts unanimously agree that the autism population is steadily increasing. Due to the fact that these diagnoses have grown so much over the past several years, a majority of them are still children. However, as time passes and these children age, they reach the brink of adulthood. This brings on a whole host of new challenges, both within the self and the world at large.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals affected by it can range from very high to very low levels of functioning. For those who are high-functioning, independence can ultimately be achieved through early diagnosis, treatment, and therapy. However, for those persons more severely affected, true independence is unlikely and often full-time care is a necessity. Each state provides Medicaid-funded programs to alleviate the transition into adulthood for both minimally and severely affected children. However, as the number of diagnoses increases but the availability of such resources remains the same, America has witnessed a growing struggle within the autism community to provide adequate care for all those who need it.

To combat this issue of supply and demand, President Obama signed the Autism CARES (Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support) Act in 2014, which will provide $1.3 billion over the next five years to fund autism research. This research will help detect the gaps in adult programs for persons with autism, as they transition out of children’s programs.

The goal, according to the bill’s co-sponsor Chris Smith, is that federal agencies will “study and report back to Congress on the special needs of autistic young adults and transitioning youth. In light of the severity of the aging-out crisis, we must do more – and fast – and ensure we are providing a comprehensive and thorough review of available services, and those we need to create.”

In the meantime, officials stress the importance of early intervention. With the help of a recent federal mandate, children who are diagnosed before the age of 3 will be granted access to state programs regardless of parents’ health insurance. Researchers hope that such programs could decrease the long-term severity by implementing treatment at the earliest stage possible.

The federal government has a long way to go before they are able to sufficiently supply the autism community with the resources it needs for adults. With the implementation of Obama’s bill, experts remain optimistic that this discrepancy can be overcome soon. Because this piece of legislation not only provides care for older persons on the spectrum, but also researches the efficacy of these programs, there is a strong chance that the Autism CARE Act of 2014 will increase the success rates of intervention programs, subsequently decreasing the severity of individuals’ disabilities.

Sara Power, Fordham University

This entry was posted in Autism Action Alerts, Autism Advocacy, Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism Diagnosis, Autism Education, Public Policy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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