Stark Realities Of Autistic Adulthood

You don’t outgrow autism. But a wave of autistic children is growing into adulthood. What’s going to happen then?

In this May 23, 2014 photo, Colleen Jankovich works with her 11-year-old autistic son, Matthew, who is non-verbal and requires 24/7 care, in Omaha,  (AP)

In this May 23, 2014 photo, Colleen Jankovich works with her 11-year-old autistic son, Matthew, who is non-verbal and requires 24/7 care, in Omaha, (AP)

As long as they’re in school, young Americans on the Autism spectrum – and there are more and more of those – have a fair amount of support. Programs. Special education. People engaged with them, and for them to engage with in return. But when school ends, that support ends. And these young adult autistic Americans, and their families, are pretty much on their own. Some, of course, can work and build fairly independent lives. Others cannot. For them, and their families, it can be an overwhelming moment. This hour On Point: a new report looks at “aging out” of America’s autism support system, and into a very challenging adulthood.

— Tom Ashbrook


Kate Snow, national correspondent for NBC News. (@tvkatesnow)

Paul Shattuck, autism researcher at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University. (@autismLCO)

Denise Resnik, mother of a 23-year-old with autism. Co-founder of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. (@ResnikDenise)

From Tom’s Reading List

NBC Dateline: You Don’t Outgrow Autism — “Graduation is when parents launch their children into the world, eager to see what lies ahead…When Eric and Nick leave school, they will lose the specialized help and structure they’ve had for most of their lives, and there’s no equivalent state or federal support required to take over. Parents of children with autism compare it to falling off a cliff.”

Chicago: When Autistic Children Are Children No More — “Though it is now more prevalent among American children than AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined, autism is still largely a mystery. People with the condition (autism is five times more common in boys than girls) typically struggle with social interaction, communication, and speech; they often suffer from other cognitive, psychiatric, and neurological difficulties too.”

Washington Post: For adults with autism, a lack of support when they need it most — “Research on how best to help adults with autism is paper-thin. Of the more than $400 million that the United States spends each year on autism research, the vast majority is for genetics research to find the causes and a cure, and studies on early diagnosis and intervention in children. Few studies have examined treatments for adults.”

Resources For Families With Autism

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