In Hanover, Pennsylvania, The Evening Sun reports on an autism mom who tried to start an adult autism transition center but found that it was harder than opening one for children.
In Pennsylvania, the only two state-funded programs for autistic individuals over 21 are the Adult Autism Waiver and the Adult Community Autism Program. Collectively, the two only helped 456 autistic adults in 2012. This is compared to the overall adult autism population in Pennsylvania, which according to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is about 7,000.
Compared to the rest of the country, the fact that the bureau even has these services is groundbreaking. Pennsylvania's Bureau of Autism Services was the first of its kind in the nation and its unique adult programming is only four years old.
One of these programs, the Adult Autism Waiver, pays for individuals to join programs that provide job training, life-skills instruction, and aid individuals with challenging behavior. Unfortunately the list of interested applicants already has 1,000 names on it and even with the additional $1.5 million in funding that Gov. Tom Corbett is promising in his 2013-2014 budget, the waiver will only be able to help an added 118 individuals.
This is particularly striking considering the rate of growth within the adult autism community in the state over the past few years. From 2005 to 2010, there was a 179 percent increase in autistic adults, and that number is expected to increase by 1,292 percent by 2020, according to the Department of Public Welfare.
A statewide survey of autistic individuals and their caretakers found this lack of adult services to be chronic. More than one in four adults with autism reported that they needed, but were not receiving vocational training, career counseling or supported employment and more than 50 percent reported an unmet need for mental and emotional health services in general.
This lack of services seems to be translating into actual negative outcomes for autistic adults. The survey also found that two thirds of them are unemployed.