Sunday, November 19, 2006

When Kids With Autism Grow Up

"What Happens When They Grow Up," is the Nov. 27th cover story for Newseek magazine that paints a clear, sometimes dire, picture of life for children with autism spectrum disorders who grow up without as many services -- or opportunities for support -- as they had when they were in school. If you're a parent who's wondering how to communicate with far-flung relatives and friends about the hard-to-understand challenges your family faces, this could be a magazine article to share with them.

The article uses clear anecdotes to demonstrate the challenges parents of young people with autism face -- what's it like to have an autistic teen in the house, the efforts families spend to find services and therapies to help kids with autism develop, the stresses this disability can put on a family's activities and finances. The article uses testimony from families and experts to raise pointed questions facing families as parents (also known as No. 1 Advocates) and their children grow older. What happens when services run out after the kid turns 21? Is it fair for parents to ask their autistic child's brother or sister to help support their disabled sibling? And what happens when parents are no longer around?

Newsweek points out that there are not sufficient resources devoted to answering these questions. There aren't enough housing or employment options, and there's a problem looming as the population of people with autism grows.

The article also points out that parents' work as advocates has raised awareness and money for research, and it could lead to an act of Congress. The magazine reports that the House, which has stalled efforts to pass the Combat Autism Act, could act on a compromise bill in early December.

To read the Newsweek story, click here. To read more about the Combat Autism Act and its prospects, click here. The New York Times recently wrote about highly-functioning students with autism who are attending college. Read about that here.

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