The Gap Between Federal Help and Adults with Autism

Ron Wright, 54, of Iowa City, relied only on state unemployment for three months.  He did receive a nine week extension of his unemployment, but that amount was half of his previous unemployment amount.  Ron hasn’t had much luck finding a job.  He is an adult with Autism, and the path to employment is a difficult one.  The Autism society reports that 1.5 million Americans live with Autism, but it has no estimates on how many of those are adults.

Autism is the fastest growing developmental difficulty in the United States. Adults who have Autism go through frequent job changes at low paying jobs when they do get employed, according to several researchers.  The reason for the frequent job changes for individuals on the Autism spectrum is due to the deficits in social interaction and accompanying behavior problems that are at the core of Autism.

Only one agency in the US provides services for specifically for individuals with Autism, and that place is the Homestead in Altoona, PA. However, finding funding for assistance programs is hard to find according to Homestead executive Director Steve Muller.

Chelsey Holmes, associate program director at The Arc of Southeast Iowa, Iowa City, says that, “If some people on spectrum don’t qualify for an intellectual disabilities waiver or don’t have a diagnosis of brain injuries, then they may not be qualified for the services.  So there is a little bit of a gap for people on the Autism spectrum, especially those who do not have a family or other support groups.Adults with Autism who aren’t working cannot afford to pay fees to get into the few support programs that could help them.  Public money, notably Medicaid, assists in some cases.”

Dr. Debra Suda, a psychiatrist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who specializes in high functioning Autism, says that every individual with Autism needs lifelong help developing social skills and learning.  An adult with Autism can have strong intelligence but be disabled by autistic related problems such as behaving rigidly or interacting improperly with others.

That person can benefit by being in groups led by psychotherapists who teach social skills

Self-advocacy is hard for individuals with Autism because it is a social skill. Because they cannot fully express themselves, so they stay in jobs that pay considerably less to remain independent.

[Original Article]

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