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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Wave and the Cliff

The Ventura County Star looks at the coming wave of adults with an ASD diagnosis -- people heading for the IDEA funding cliff (yes, I know it's a mixed metaphor):
The caseload is dominated by people under 22, the age when they no longer qualify for special education in public schools. Over the next three years, more than 100 Ventura County youths with autism will hit that threshold. Thousands more are in the pipeline around the state.
Advocate Rick Rollens said the state is unprepared for helping move this wave of young people to adulthood.
"It's woefully behind where it should be," said Rollens, who lobbies for an association of 21 regional centers providing housing, transportation, treatment, recreation and job counseling to adults with developmental disabilities. They have sustained almost $1 billion in state budget cuts over the past three years.
"We need to be building residential programs, day programs and employment opportunities to deal with and care for this population," said Rollens, who has a 21-year-old autistic son.
Planning is beginning for the shift in cooperation with families, clients and agencies that provide services, said Frank Bush, who directs services for the regional center serving Ventura County.
He says the state, including colleges and technical schools, still has some distance to go.
Fred Robinson, CEO of Arc of Ventura County, which serves autistic adults, says that's a scary proposition at a time when the state is broke.