In The Politics of Autism, I write:
Autism often involves a range of other co-occurring conditions: intellectual disabilities (e.g., low IQ); delays in gross motor skills (e.g., walking, throwing) and fine motor skills (e.g., writing); attention problems and hyperactivity; anxiety; self-injurious behavior; unusual sensitivity to certain sounds, smells, or feelings; extreme food selectivity; and sleep disorders. For autistic people and their families, the co-occurring conditions may cause as much anguish as the autism itself.
Many analyses of autism speak as if it were only a childhood ailment and assume that parents are the main stakeholders. But most children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, and they suffer uniquely high levels of social isolation. Almost 40 percent of youth with an autism spectrum disorder never get together with friends, and 50 percent of never receive phone calls from friends. These figures are higher than for peers with intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or learning disability. When school ends, many adults with autism have grim prospects. Though evidence is sparse, it seems that most do not find full-time jobs.Compared with other people their age, they have higher rates of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and suicide attempts.
I know that many kids on the autism spectrum are diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder, and most are usually diagnosed with more than one.
With one in 45 kids on the autism spectrum, are our medical facilities prepared to care for the huge number of kids on the spectrum that will most likely seek help? Are there enough psychiatrists out there to help our kids in an emergency?
I’m scared that the answer for these questions is “no.”
TJ is too. And that’s why I’m writing this today with his permission.
“Maybe it can help another kid, mom,” he said.
I hope so, TJ.