Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Opinion: Need to Fill Service Gaps for Young Adults with Autism

An important read by Valerie Paradiz, Executive Director, Autistic Global Initiative, on the importance of measuring outcomes as our field evolves. She has presented at YAI's conference in the past. We need to ensure there's a better transition for young adults and it needs to start earlier.
I am the mother of Elijah, a 25-year-old young man on the autism spectrum. When he received his diagnosis at age 4, following two years of terrifying seizures, I was teaching German literature at Bard College in New York. I loved being a professor, but when Elijah’s struggles began to have a greater impact on his and my daily life, I chose to switch careers and concentrate on education and advocacy — for him, and also for other children with autism.
During Elijah’s time in school, I saw gaps in knowledge and help for those on the spectrum. Although my focus at the time was on children, the lack of services has persisted, undermining a whole generation of youth with autism through their school years and into young adulthood.This topic is of urgent importance: An estimated half million young Americans with autism will make the transition to adulthood over the next decade. A report released in April captures the story of this overlooked generation in hard numbers.

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