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Monday, August 16, 2010

Autism After 21

ABC News reports on Tyler Bell of New Jersey:

Since Tyler was diagnosed at an early age, his parents have fought for him to receive help from educators and therapists through programs mostly paid for by the state. But there is a serious catch coming -- in four years, Tyler will turn 21 and the government support will end.

Very few resources exist for adults with autism, leading many of them to live life in isolation. The Bells want to avoid that fate for their son, but they worry what his future will be like when they're no longer there to offer support.

"I don't know a parent who doesn't go through that kind of emotional feeling of what happens if I go before my child does," said Peter Bell, Tyler's father and a senior official at Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy group.

The Bells decided they needed to plan for the day when they are gone and Tyler will have to fend for himself. For two weekends, they gathered those in their community who were connected with Tyler -- neighbors, teachers and friends -- to map out his future, literally.