More autism woes await

In the next decade, more than a half-million children with autism will age out of school and into adulthood.

 

Presently, the cost of educating them is considerably higher than their neuro-typical peers, and states are struggling to fund their needs. However, it’s going to become a lot worse when they leave school.

The old saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees” aptly applies here. Government health officials, doctors and the media continue to say autism isn’t a crisis now – the high numbers are only because of better diagnosing and expansion of the spectrum, and they say “don’t worry” because there are blue lights for awareness. But they can’t see what will happen to the forest of sick children in the future.

Government sources have estimated that it will cost $2 million to $3 million to take care of a person with autism for a lifetime. Yet, those who are deeply involved with autism know that the cost could easily be 10 times that amount.

Approximately 85 to 90 percent of those on the spectrum never will be employable. They won’t ever contribute to Social Security, but always will be eligible for government disability. That means that we, the taxpayers, will be responsible for their care.

With the forest becoming so thick from the present lack of urgency, services and housing for those with autism spectrum disorder when they age out of school are soon to become huge problems. Where will all these young adults go? Many parents still will have to work. And what will happen to the children when the parents die?

How long will society wait to start dealing with this urgent problem?

Maurine Meleck

North Augusta, S.C.

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