In The Politics of Autism, I write:
When disabled people reach their 22d birthday, they no longer qualify for services under IDEA. ... People in the disability community refer to this point in life as “the cliff.” Once autistic people go over the cliff, they have a hard time getting services such as job placement, vocational training, and assistive technology. IDEA entitles students to transition planning services during high school, but afterwards, they have to apply as adults and establish eligibility for state and federal help. One study found that 39 percent of young autistic adults received no service at all, and most of the rest got severely limited services.
My daughter’s discharge from a dayhab program threw into sharp relief the grim issue that many families like ours face – a system ill-equipped to serve the burgeoning number of autistic adults. It’s a wake-up call to the urgent need for housing solutions. The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and its vendors, in their inability to provide necessary support, stand testament to this critical deficiency.
The failing of the state in predicting the surge in demand for housing, despite the availability of special education data, has snowballed into a crisis. Analysis by Autism Housing Pathways (AHP) augurs a considerable number of young adults requiring group home placements and supportive housing units annually. The state does have a supportive housing program that could potentially be scaled up to meet this demand, but the challenge lies in overcoming the lack of political will to channel sufficient funding into these housing and service programs.