Congratulations to the New York Times for running a small guest opinion piece about the fate of autistic adults. The article, Growing Old With Autism, is written by Karl Taro Greenfeld, the brother of a low functioning autistic adult and the author of Boy Alone: A Brother’s Memoir. Mr Greenfeld makes the argument that the focus of autism awareness, fund raising and government response has been almost entirely on autistic children. The result has been a lack of resources in critical areas such as residential care and employment opportunities for autistic adults, particularly low functioning autistic adults.
Mr Greenfeld's brother is in his 40's and is low functioning. I am the father of a low functioning 13 year old who, like many parents in that situation, is struggling to prepare for my son's future. I am pleased to see the NYT devote some attention to this serious situation facing autistic adults, particularly low functioning autistic adults.
Mr. Greenfeld quite correctly points out the emphasis on autistic children in today's autism. awareness. Although he talks about his low functioning autistic brother's challenges he does not address directly another issue confounding the problem for low functioning children now becoming autistic adults - the media misrepresentation of autism disorders as being reflected in the realities of persons with high functioning autism spectrum disorders. By and large the media loves to dote on the high functioning autistic and Aspergian media trotters like Amanda Baggs, Michelle Dawson, Ari Ne'eman and Alex Plank. Few mainstream media features are built around the invisible autistics - the low functioning autistic adults living in institutional care or otherwise living very restricted lives dependant on the care of others.
This father of a teen age boy/young man with Autistic Disorder and profound developmental "delays" says thank you to Mr. Greenfeld and the New York Times for this small step towards reminding the world about the invisible autistics, the low functioning autistic adults, the ones who do not attend university, pose for fashionable photo shots in high powered magazines or run from camera to camera shouting "we don't want to be cured".