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Do Autistic Adults Live Independently

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Key Findings: Cdc Releases First Estimates Of The Number Of Adults Living With Autism Spectrum Disorder In The United States


A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among adults aged 18 years and older in the United States in 2017*. This study fills a gap in data on adults living with ASD in the United States because there is not an existing surveillance system to collect this information.

An estimated 5,437,988 adults in the United States have ASD.

  • The prevalence of US adults with ASD ranged from a low of 1.97% in Louisiana to a high of 2.42% in Massachusetts.
  • The states with the greatest estimated number of adults living with ASD included California , Texas , New York , and Florida .

Consistent with estimates of ASD in US school-aged children, prevalence was found to be higher in men than in women.

  • Approximately 4,357,667 male adults were estimated to have ASD, with state estimates ranging from 3.17% of men in South Dakota to 4.01% of men in Massachusetts.
  • Approximately 1,080,322 female adults were estimated to have ASD, with state estimates ranging from 0.72% of women in Arkansas to 0.97% of women in Virginia.

ASD is a lifelong condition, and many adults with ASD need ongoing services and supports. The findings from this study can help states determine the need for diagnosing and providing services to adults in the United States who remain unidentified with ASD.

*Estimates were based on modeling inputs from state-based population and mortality data and parent-report survey data of US children diagnosed with ASD.

Social And Romantic Relationships

Interacting with others in a social setting may cause anxiety for autistic adults. Difficulties with social communication, social skills or finding social interaction exhausting may mean autistic adults avoid social settings.

Making and maintaining friendships can be challenging for some autistic individuals, however learning these skills can bring great social and emotional benefits.

Social Skills

Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and;non-verbally, through gestures,;body language;and our personal appearance.;Autistic adults may have to learn and practice social skills and understand that there are social rules they should try to follow in order to have successful social interactions and make friends.

For more information on improving your social skills you could:

  • Seek help through a psychologist or speech pathologist who can help to train you in social skills.
  • Participate in a group social skills training program; these are often delivered by therapy services.
  • Join an autism peer support group.
  • Consult books, search Library Link Victoria for relevant book titles to borrow from local libraries or ask the librarian at your local library.
  • Read this WikiHow post on developing social skills.


All adults have different friendships throughout their life. Sometimes as an adult it can be harder to make friends outside the structure of school. If youre not working or studying you can become socially isolated.

Different Degrees Of Independence

First, its important to understand that a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder does not mean that your child or family member will not be able to date, make friends, attend college, get married, become a parent, or have a satisfying career. People with ASD do these things and more every day.;

What an ASD diagnosis does mean is that your child or family member will progress differently than people without ASD.

At Therapeutic Pathways, our team of therapists and behavior technicians work to help those diagnosed with ASD reach their full potential. This means reaching different stages of independence over time.;

Again, its not possible to provide a concrete answer of how long it will take your child or family member to develop certain independent living skills. Our staff meets each client where they are and works closely with them to develop skills to keep your child safe and happy.

Some of the autism independent living skills that we encourage and develop at Therapeutic Pathways include:

Recommended Reading: Creating A Visual Schedule Autism

How To Begin A Diagnosis Process

Adults who suspect they or a loved one might be autistic can do a self-assessment test for adults. A person can find these tests online. While they cannot give a diagnosis, the tests are a good starting point.

A person seeking a diagnosis can take the results of such a test to a primary care doctor who will try to determine whether ASD may be present by:

  • enquiring about the symptoms, both current and during childhood
  • observing and interacting with the person
  • speaking to a loved one
  • checking for other physical or mental health conditions that may be causing symptoms

If no underlying physical condition can explain the symptoms, the doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to make an ASD diagnosis.

If symptoms are not present in childhood but begin in adolescence or adulthood, this may indicate a cognitive or mental health condition other than ASD.

It may be difficult to find a specialist who can diagnose ASD in adults. Individuals who would like a diagnosis for themselves or a loved one may need to do research to find a provider with experience diagnosing autistic adults.

Another option is to speak to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist who is willing to see adult clients.

Adults With Autism Face Old Age Without Much Support

Who Decides Where Autistic Adults Live?
by Jessica Wright;/;22 February 2016

Warning sign:

Fifty years ago, few people had heard of the term autism, let alone known anyone with a diagnosis. Not surprisingly, many adults with autism over the age of 50 have never been diagnosed; others received their diagnoses late in life.

In either scenario, these adults enter old age facing a loss of independence that comes with unique challenges ones that society is ill-prepared to address.

An article I wrote last year highlights how little we know about aging with autism. Since then, however, there have been a smattering of studies aimed at better identifying and understanding autism and aging, along with a spate of editorials about how sorely such studies are needed1,2,3.

In most countries, a diagnosis of autism might help people gain access to support services such as visits from aides, which can make living on their own possible. And knowing that someone has autism could help others understand why certain routines, for example, may be critical for that persons well-being.

In a rare study looking at older adults with autism, Hilde Geurts, a neuropsychologist at the University of Amsterdam, followed up on the observation that many of the men and women she sees in her autism clinic also have depression. This suggested to her that older adults with depression warrant a closer look for signs of autism.

You May Like: Symmetra Overwatch Autistic

Housing And Residential Support Options For Adults

All parents worry about their childrens future, but for the 19% of people with disabilities, that parental concern is even greater -;especially when it comes to financial planning and the transition to adulthood. More than 300 people traveled from five different states to attend the first Special Needs Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD.

The morning was dedicated to special needs financial planning and was funded through a partnership with the;SunTrust Foundation;as part of a regional series of workshops dedicated to Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being through education and resources. ;

See the session below about housing and residential support options, delivered by Angela Lello, Senior Director of Public Policy for Autism Speaks:

Preparing Your Autistic Child To Live On Their Own

While some people with autism spectrum disorder will never be able to live and function independently, those on the high-functioning end of the spectrum are often able to go to college, find jobs, and live on their own.

As the parent of an autistic child, you are probably accustomed to being very involved in all aspects of your child’s daily life, and they are very likely dependent on you for things like scheduling meals, setting bedtimes, and keeping on top of doctor’s appointments. The prospect of letting your child manage these aspects of life by themselves can be unnerving.

You can ease some of the anxiety for both you and your child by preparing them to take on some basic responsibilities once they leave the nest. Here are five things your child should know how to do.

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Ten Ways To Build Your Childs Independence

1. Strengthen Communication

If your child struggles with spoken language, a critical step for increasing independence is strengthening his or her ability to communicate by building skills and providing tools to help express preferences, desires and feelings. Consider introducing Alternative/Augmentative Communication and visual supports. Common types of AAC include picture exchange communication systems , speech output devices .

2. Introduce a Visual Schedule

Using a visual schedule with your child can help the transition from activity to activity with less prompting. Review each item on the schedule with your child and then remind him or her to check the schedule before every transition. Over time, he or she will be able to complete this task with increasing independence, practice decision making and pursue the activities that interest him or her.

3. Work on Self-Care Skills

Introduce self-care activities into your childs routine. Brushing teeth, combing hair and other activities of daily living are important life skills, and introducing them as early as possible can allow your child to master them down the line. Make sure to include these things on your childs schedule so he or she gets used to having them as part of the daily routine.

4. Teach Your Child to Ask for a Break

5. Work on Household Chores

6. Practice Money Skills

7. Teach Community Safety Skills

8. Build Leisure Skills

9. Teach Self-Care during Adolescence

10. Work on Vocational Skills

Other Issues To Consider

Talking Autism Episode 6: Living Independently
  • Health services coordination and medication administration
  • Behavioral and mental health support
  • Respite for caregivers
  • Support at home
  • Family support

Funding your physical home and paying for the supports you need are usually separate parts of this process.;You’ll need to decide how you will pay for the residence, who will manage the property, who will pay the utilities, and who will contact the service providers for help.

For the actual physical;house, you will need to consider the;public and private funding options that can be reviewed here.

For;service supports, you will need to consider applying for public funding -;through Social Security and Medicaid -;and/or private pay options.;Find the service providers in your state.

Also Check: What Causes Autism Exploring The Environmental Contribution

The Brief History Of Autism

In the recent past, children with severe autistic symptoms likely faced years of institutionalization. They were diagnosed with mental illness, most commonly childhood schizophrenia or infantile psychosis, reflecting the prevailing theory that autism-related disorders in children represented the early onset of adult psychosis. Not until the 1970s did autism begin to emerge as its own disorder.;4; During this period in social history, institutionalization of those with mental illness and other disabilities became the exception rather than the rule, giving way to legal and political pressures to serve those with disabilities in their communities. 5

Cdcs Work For Adults With Asd

Planning for Service Needs

CDCs most recent funding cycle for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network;includes support for five sites to follow up on 16-year-olds who had been identified with ASD by 8 years of age. This is a new activity for the ADDM Network and will provide valuable information on transition planning in special education services and potential service needs after high school.

Promoting Better Outcomes

CDCs Study to Explore Early Development began identifying children with ASD in the mid-2000s and these children are now beginning the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Through SEED Teen, CDC is tracking the changes that occur during this transition period to learn about factors that may promote more successful transitions and better outcomes in young adults with ASD.

For more information, visit .

Also Check: What Kind Of Autism Does Symmetra Have

How The Community Can Help

The Treffert Center. Photo by Kacie Mischler Bass.

As with many social movements, it should not be solely the responsibility of a particular community to make their lives better on their own. There is a lot that other people can do to help.

Cooper says, We hear from a lot of people with autism that they dont feel welcome at community events, and so a direct invitation can go a long way. This could apply to any event, large or small. If you know someone with autism that might need a little nudge to feel wanted, it is great to give a little one-on-one encouragement.

Tara Geier, BCBA, ESDM Practitioner at the Treffert Center says that our community members can ask questions and make modifications to be more inclusive. More transitional housing, on-the-job supports, police and first responder trainings, altering environments to be more sensory friendly these are just some things we can all start doing more of, Geier says.

Cooper shares that in her experience, people with higher support needs have their strengths overlooked, while individuals whose autism is more invisible have their needs overlooked. Either scenario can have a significant impact on mental health and overall wellness, she says. It is important to maintain the balance of appreciating a persons value while also acknowledging their differing needs.

A very special thank you to all sources who contributed to this story. Some were not quoted in the final article due to space and scope:

Youre Torturing Your Child With Aba Therapy

You Aut to Know

Just like society at large, the autism community is not unified in their beliefs about autism. The first time I mentioned ABA therapy on my blog, it only took a few minutes before someone said to me, youre torturing your child with ABA therapy. This didnt come as a surprise. Before Charlie was even diagnosed with autism I had searched the web for therapy options, and found that ABA wasnt liked by everyone. ABA is the number one therapy recommended by medical experts for children on the autism spectrum, however many autistics reject that conclusion. As an autistic adult, I see both sides of the argument but overall Im in favor of ABA therapy.

Read Also: What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Autism

Social Independence And Self

The Treffert Center. Photo by Kacie Mischler Bass.

Once the basic requirements of survival are fulfilled, there is the idea of life satisfaction to consider. Adults with autism are no different from the neurotypical in that they crave connection and relationships, even if they do not show it in traditional ways. One of the most notable features of autism is a struggle with interpreting others behavior, reading nonverbal communication and managing social anxiety.

Lexi Parker is a 24-year-old Combined Locks woman with autism who loves drawing, reading and music.

I really wish I had more time on improving my social skills. I struggle with starting and maintaining a conversation, she says. I find it hard to keep a conversation because I struggle with thinking of things to say on the fly. Ive learned that open ended questions work better at helping me get a conversation going.

Parker was only diagnosed with autism in high school, despite some early signs. Because of her late diagnosis, she was not able to participate in childrens programs. Parker says that after a childhood marked by never fitting in, finding a supportive community in her church over the last several years has come a long way in helping her to feel accepted and valued.

I do believe that there should be more support for adults in terms of socialization. I never really got the help in this area, and Im finding that Im learning certain skills on my own, she says.

Young Adults With Autism Less Likely To Have Jobs

Surveys looked at life after high school for 20-somethings with various disorders

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 18 — Young adults with autism are less likely to find work or live on their own than their peers with other kinds of disabilities, two new studies show.

The studies detailed the fates of a national sample of 20-somethings who had received special-education services in high school.

The first study focused on employment. Researchers found that only about half of those with autism had ever held a job since high school, and only about a third were currently working.

Even worse, young adults on the autism spectrum were less likely to be getting a paycheck than people the same age who had other kinds of disabilities. More than 80 percent of those with speech and language difficulties reported having at least one job, for example, while 62 percent of those with intellectual disabilities had ever been employed.

When kids with autism did find work, they made less money. On average, young adults with autism earned $8.10 an hour, while those with other kinds of impairments — including low IQs, learning disabilities, and trouble speaking and communicating — were paid between $11 and $12 an hour.

The second study focused on living arrangements. Researchers found that only 17 percent of young adults with autism, who were between 21 and 25 years old, had ever lived on their own.

Also Check: Dog Breed For Autistic Child

Being Normal Is Hard Work

I found out I had Asperger’s syndrome when I was 15 years old. Because of my Asperger’s, I didn’t develop the same way as my peers. When my classmates learnt how to socialise and communicate, I struggled to relate to the world around me.

I tried to keep my Asperger’s hidden. I spent years trying to study the “rules” of communication and I obsessed over learning how to be “normal”. I developed flow charts and diagrams. I basically analysed other people’s behaviour as if I was a behavioural psychologist.

I don’t think many people realise how much effort, energy, and dedication goes into me wanting to appear normal.

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