Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Adults with Autism

by Anna Hundley, ATC Executive Director

Did you know that in Texas there are over 200,000 adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?  You may ask, what are those 200,000 adults doing every day?  Well, we know that less than 10,000 of those adults are in programs, but the other 190,000 may not be receiving services of any kind.  Many are on waiting lists at the state and county level for services.  Some of those people have been on waiting lists for well over 10 years!  We expect that most of the 190,000 are sitting at home watching TV or playing video games.  

As these adults age, so do their parents.  At ATC we serve 75 adults, ages 22-67.  Several are in their 40s, some in their 50s and 60s.  One or both parents of the older adults at ATC have passed away.  One of the scariest concerns of parents with adults with autism is what is going to happen to my son or daughter when I pass away.

In 2001 I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ruth Sullivan and hear her discuss the crisis in adult services.  She had the foresight to form the National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism (NARPAA) with the mission to assure the availability of residential services and other supports for adults with autism throughout their lives.  I was elected to serve as the President of that organization from 2001-2011.  What I learned and continue to learn every day is that the crisis is not just in Texas, but all over the United States and the world.

It is estimated that over 2,000 students with ASD graduate from high schools in Texas each year.  The number of adults with autism is not going to get smaller; it is only going to get larger.  We have a crisis in Texas as well as the rest of the country, and we must deal with the problem sooner rather than later.

How can you help change the situation for adults with autism in your community?  Support a local autism program, like Autism Treatment Center, to help them continue and expand services.  Tell others.  Spread the word to create awareness about the critical needs for these services.  Leave a comment and let us know your ideas to help.

Anna Hundley, ATC Executive Director, joined Autism Treatment Center in 1982.  Ms. Hundley is recognized nationally and internationally for nonprofit management and leadership skills.  She is the past President of National Association of Residential Providers of Adults with Autism (NARPAA); Serves on State independent Living Council appointed by Governor Perrymember of National ASA Services TASK Force; member of 32nd IRI, US Dept of Education; Vice Chair of Texas Council on Autism & Pervasive Development Disorders, National Advisory Task Force, SEDL

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