Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Adult Autism Crisis

In What Happens When They Grow Up, Newsweek, to its credit, focuses on the very real adult autism residential care crisis which exists in the United States (and in Canada). Newsweek is unable to provide any real solutions but hopefully the article will help focus the public discussion of autism on the very serious crisis confronting adults with autism disorders who can not care for themselves.

Not all "autistics" grow up to become researchers, Supreme Court of Canada litigants and college students, appear repeatedly on CNN with Dr. Gupta, or start "Autistic"rights movements. Some are more severely impaired, lacking basic communication skills and an understanding of the world and how to function in it.

Here in New Brunswick we have much to be proud of in terms of autism service delivery for autistic pre-schoolers and our schools are rapidly becoming a model second to none in North America for educating autistic students. But our autistic adult services are abysmal.

In New Brunswick our autistic adults in need of residential care are placed in privately operated group homes. The homes are not set up specifically for autistic adults and the staff are not trained to deal with autistic adults. The more severely autistic adults and older autistic youths in New Brunswick have been kept on the grounds of a correctional facility, on the ward of a general hospital, left with overwhelmed parents or exported to facilities elsewhere in Canada and the United States.

The adult autism crisis is not unique to New Brunswick but, unlike our services for preschool and school age autistic children, the adult care autism crisis here in New Brunswick is amongst the serious in North America. By literally exporting our autistic adults we are admitting that we have failed some of our most vulnerable New Brunswickers.


jypsy said...

If you believe that autistic adults belong in institutions with staff "trained to deal with autistic adults" then why don't you do something about it? Here on PEI a very, very small group of like minded parents (3 or 4 couples) are doing just that.

Unknown said...

"If you believe that autistic adults belong in institutions with staff "trained to deal with autistic adults" then why don't you do something about it?"

Your description "believe that autistic adults belong in institutions" is not what I said. Please refrain from injecting your rhetoric into my statements.

As for attempting to obtain proper residential care for those autistic adults in NB who require them I have, along with other members of the Autism Society New Brunswick, been doing that for some time now.

We also worked - successfully - to obtain:

1) provision of evidence based pre school interventions by trained service providers;

2)accommodation of individual learning styles and autism trained teacher aides in NB schools;

3) continuation of provision of tertiary care pediatric services for autistic children at the Stan Cassidy Centre which had been scheduled for discontinuance.

We continue our efforts now to obtain decent and appropriate residential care and treatment for autistic adults.

Thank you for your helpful comments.

jypsy said...

"Your description "believe that autistic adults belong in institutions" is not what I said."

That's why my statement started with "If". If you don't fine, ignore what I said.

What, ideally, would you like to see in place for autistic adults such as your son (and mine)?

MStuart said...

My wife and I are two professionals who have drawn up a highly viable plan for a community for autistic adults in which they will be safe, cared for, and productive for their entire adult lives. We have an autistic 16 year-old son who is moderate to severe, but is being trained vocationally, with programs I as an educator am writing, and his school is implementing.We are looking to relocate from Florida to any state where we can find a group of determined parents and community members who would like to create the community for adults that parents dream of, and that eventually will be the model of the future for disabled adults. Please contact if you are truly interested .

Anonymous said...

I an my wife are two professionals who have created a highly viable plan for an adult community for autistic individuals. We have a 17 year-old son with autism in the moderate to severe range who is currently engaged in vocational training in which I write his programs and an educator, and his school implements them. The community we are looking to built would provide everything a parent could hope for: 24/7 safety, compassion, and life-long productivity where all residents would be trained to be productive to the best of their capability. The community would help alleviate the terrible fears we have as parents pertaining to the future of our children when we are no longer here. We are looking for a dedicated group of parents and community leaders who would be willing to make this plan a reality. Currently, this is a cutting-edge community, but it will be the model for future communities for the disabled. I would be happy to share my ideas with anyone if it means helping parents around the nation who are desperately seeking a future for their adult children. We also would be willing to relocate to any state where people are willing to build for the future of their autistic children. Please contact if interested.

Anonymous said...


Please refrain from such strong tones in your commentary. As Harold mentioned we are working hard here in NB to start framing a residential care facility/job programs/Long Term Care planning for our Adults with Autism. Our record at ASNB speaks for itself. We are drawing public attention to the next logical step in ensuring our citizens with Autsim are safe, secure, and contributers to society. All this while supported by trained professionals and personell. It is no small feat, but well worth the effort. For some that will mean a residential/institutional type of support. That is a cold hard fact, however, one we are not shy to address.

I like your idea and proactive leadership. I would love to dialogue with you about this. Thank you for sharing.

Dawn Bowie
Justin's Mom