Autism rates continue to rise in the U.S., leaving health experts at a loss to explain why? While better means of testing for the neural developmental disorder offers some explanation, it fails to adequately cover the dramatic increase in children born with an autism spectrum disorder.
Currently, 1 in 50 children are born with autism in the U.S., an increase of 300 percent from 2002 when the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimated 1 in 150 kids would be born with the disorder. The rates of children with autism have spiked more than anyone could of predicted in recent years, as the CDC has already revised its estimate of 1 in 88 kids from 2012.
With the number of children born with autism skyrocketing, it shouldn’t come as too great a surprise that adults with the disorder have started to face a shortage of available support services and housing across the U.S., according to a new survey.
Within the next 10 years, approximately 500,000 teens currently living with autism will transition into adulthood. Many of whom will need the aid of adult autism assistant services that already find themselves at the breaking point, says the survey conducted by the autism awareness organization Autism Speaks.
Autism advocated hope the findings from the National Housing and Residential Supports Survey help to raise awareness of the growing need for additional support services the U.S. increasing autism population needs heading into an uncertain future.
The results of the survey’s finding were reported at a recent autism policy summit held in Washington D.C.
A Rising Need
As part of the survey, researchers polled over 10,000 individuals, including both those living with autism and caregivers. Over 84 percent of caregivers surveyed reported living with an adult with autism at home. Of those adults, only 24 percent were currently on a waiting list for to receive residential support and housing services.
Approximately 78 percent of caregivers surveyed reported the individual with autism need some level of daily support; almost 70 percent of caregivers reported not having any outside help caring for their loved ones with autism, and over half of caregivers reported needing assistance.
To those hoping to find good new regarding the current state of the autism community in the U.S., this report comes as a stark disappointment.
Experts agree that adults living with autism need to live as independent lives as possible. Unfortunately, the results of this survey describe a scenario where many adults living with autism are forced to live at home where a great deal of their care falls on family members who may or may not have the skills and ability to handle their needs. This can lead to further social developmental issues that cause an adult with autism to become even more dependant on aid and incapable of eventually living on their own.
A Call to Action
Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder experience problems with social behavior and communication. These problems can range from the minor to the severe and can lead to may difficulties in daily life. High functioning individuals with autism can live almost normal lives, while others may have trouble mastering such basic skills as bathing and brushing their teeth.
While researchers behind the study offered no suggestions on how to improve the current climate for adults living with the disorder, autism awareness will certainly play a large role in future funding. As more individuals feel the impact of autism in their lives, public awareness for the disorder will grow, which will hopefully lead the conversation over autism down the same path as more prominent public health issues such as heart disease and cancer awareness.
John Nickelbottom is a freelance health writer.
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