Although symptoms may change and even improve, autism is a lifelong condition that presents many challenges through adulthood. Whether an adult with autism lives in a group home, independently, or with family, he or she still requires parental or some support.
Just as children with autism vary in their capabilities, so do adults. Some autistic adults are completely dependent on parents or other caregivers, while others are able to live a semi-independent life.
When my daughter Mary was diagnosed with autism in 1995,” says actor Gary Cole, “all I had to go on was RainMan.” Today, an estimated one in 150 American children under age 8 are diagnosed with autism or related conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome -- all with symptoms such as an inability to relate to others, the insistence on rigid routines, and engaging in repetitive behaviors. “It seems you can ask any friend, any relative,” says Cole, “and they’ll be able to tell you about someone they know...
Resources for adults vary by state and community, but vocational training programs exist in many areas. These programs can help eligible adults with autism work on daily living skills to help them be as independent as possible. Sometimes supported employment opportunities are available, which allow both training and employment for the disabled. Information about state programs can usually be found in the yellow pages of your telephone book under the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Contact support groups or a health professional for help in finding regional programs.
Parents must plan for the future of a child with autism. The cost of care, eligibility for government assistance, and the individual skills and abilities of the child should all be taken into consideration. Some government services may pay in part or in full for your child's adult care, depending upon different factors, such as your income. Become familiar with tax issues and estate planning to ensure that your child will have proper care and necessary resources available should you die. If you have other children who have developed normally, include them in the planning.