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Sunday, September 19, 2021


 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. 

 In the Bay Area, Christopher Egusa reports at KALW-FM:

A June 2021 study from the CDC found that 70% of parents and unpaid caregivers of adults suffered mental health issues during the pandemic, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and suicidal thoughts. In fact, family caregivers like Fiona were eight times more likely to contemplate suicide than others.


The problem starts with basic math. Changing demographics like an aging baby boomer generation means that over the next decade the US is going to need more care workers. Like, 4.7 million more, according to a report by the Paraprofessional Research Institute. That’s the most of any occupation. more than the second and third places combined.

But the number of care workers is actually shrinking, as workers leave the industry. The reason? Caregiving jobs are of such poor quality. Mostly minimum wage or below, offer few benefits, and provide minimal training. Nationally, one in five care workers live below the poverty line, and over half receive public assistance.

The end result is an industry that experiences shockingly high turnover. Some estimates put it at over 60%. This is a problem when one of the most important aspects of a caregiver’s work is developing a trusting relationship with their client and learning their specific needs. The revolving door of care workers means that cases like Fiona and Linus get stuck in limbo for months or years, unable to find the consistent care they need.

Care workers are 87% women, 49% POC, and almost a third immigrants, and some advocates argue that the poor job quality speaks to a long history of oppression and discrimination.