Children with autism grow up to be…adults with autism

An article in the Arizona Republic last Sunday reminds readers that children with autism grow up to be adults with autism. The reporter points out what so many tend to forget. Autism is not a childhood disorder. It never goes away.

The child born in 1980 – the year the American Psychiatric Association first added autism to its list of known mental disorders – is now nearly 30 years old.

The story tracks a couple of young adults with autism, including Eric Foley. Eric graduated from high school at age 20. He has lived with his parents Rob and Donna Foley ever since.

Rob and Donna have worked hard to leave Eric financially secure, but for Donna, the question of Eric’s future is not as simple as money.

“I’m 60. I’m not going to live forever,” Donna said. “Who is going to care for him? Who will treat him with tolerance and patience? Who will love him?”

The story credits our Easter Seals Living with Autism Study for providing quantifiable information about the services and supports that families living with autism desperately need.

In 2008, Easter Seals conducted a national study and found that 1.5 million Americans have an autism spectrum disorder. Twenty percent, or 300,000, of those people are age 22 or older.

The details of the study told a story that parents of children with autism have known all along.

• 76 percent of teenagers with autism over the age of 16 have never looked for a job.

• 79 percent of parents of children with autism are “extremely” or “very” concerned about their children’s future independence. Of “typical” parents, by comparison, 32 percent are equally concerned.

• 79 percent of adults with autism still live at home.

Easter Seals stands out as the nation’s leading provider of services and support for children — and adults — living withautism. The one consistent message Easter Seals hears from the families we serve — after the initial apprehension and anxiety of learning their child has autism — is an overwhelming concern about the life-long supports their child with autism may need. More than a generation ago, Easter Seals was front and center during the polio epidemic, working tirelessly to help children and adults with polio gain the skills necessary to live independently. And now, Easter Seals is working internationally to provide help, hope and answers to families living with autism today by delivering personalized services and treatments, as well as advocating with government to encourage financing for research and improved access to services and supports for people with autism.

Every family living with a person who has autism faces unique challenges. Early detection and intervention are the essential first steps. There is an urgent need for increased funding and services — especially for adults with autism.

We want to help change all of this and make a difference for families living with autism today. Help us change the lives of people living with autism by becoming a volunteer or donorvisit to learn more about autism, read the findings of the Easter Seals Living with Autism Study, and find services at an Easter Seals near you.


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  1. Patricia Collins Says:

    how do you your 12 year old with autism daddy is dead and is in heaven not waiting i n the White house in Michigan?

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    “Every family living with a person who has autism faces unique challenges.”

    You got that right. As I heard someone say, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met…one person with autism.”