Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism

I recently overheard someone say, “it took us 20 years to figure out what to do in early intervention and autism — we don’t have that kind of time when it comes to adults with autism.” It’s true. We don’t have time. The much-lauded statistic of “1 in 150 diagnosed” is usually accompanied by a picture of a young child’s face.

Thing is, though, the data for 1:150 was collected nine years ago on a sample of eight year olds — that figure represents individuals who are now 17 years old! These 17-year-olds will be exiting the educational system very soon. They’ll be joining many other adults with autism already challenged by our lack of services and supports for adults.

Easter Seals is taking action to address this need through participation in Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA). AFAA is a national consortium seeking to create meaningful futures for adults with autism that include homes, jobs, recreation, friends and supportive communities. This unique national consortium has united to set national priorities for adults on the autism spectrum and to transform public policy and programming for teens and adults with autism spectrum disorders.

In January, AAFA held a Think Tank. Nationally recognized experts in a variety of fields (e.g., individuals with autism, program operators, university professors, public policy authorities and specialists from both the public and private sectors) met to begin addressing the issue of autism and adulthood. The summary report from that think tank is available at the AFAA web site, and national town halls are next — Americans will come together across at least 15 cities on November 13, 2009 to create a policy agenda for addressing the needs of adults with autism. Over 1,000 people — including caregivers, advocates, elected officials, family members, and adults with autism — will join the discussion to make recommendations on this important issue. The event will be orchestrated from a central hub in Chicago and available nationally via webcast. The unprecedented scale and diversity of the AFAA National Town Meeting will attract attention to the issue and build momentum.

Adults with autism can — and do — lead meaningful lives. Easter Seals believes that with proper supports, adults with autism can all live, learn, work and play in their communities. AFAA is helping to make this happen.


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  12. Patricia Wright Says:

    Carol – cost containment is certainly on all of our minds during these economically challenging times. In an attempt to welcome all interested participants each site does have a limited number of scholarships available.

  13. Carol Reeves Says:

    While this is a very timely and worthwhile topic I was shocked to learn that Autism Speaks is charging $100 per person for this “Town Hall Meeting” This is Outrageous!! My son is 24 and living at home with us, we need help NOW!! Has Autism Speaks not sucked enough money from us through their walks that they now must create a national event and then call it a “Town Hall” meeting? We NEED good conversations about the needs of our Adult children and where they will live, who will take care of them after we are gone, what we DO NOT need is another fundraiser to fill the greedy hands of Autism Speaks.

  14. Cam Says:

    I see the 1:150 statistic thrown about all the time, but no one ever mentions that it was measured nine years ago… We all know that kids grow up, but I think it’s important to be reminded that 1:150 kids become 1:150 adults.

    Our Stories of Hope section was just updated with a few profiles of adults living with autism. Take a look, there are some great stories!

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