Since its classification as a disorder in 1980, support for those on the autism spectrum has skyrocketed. However, there is still so much more that needs to be done before it can be said that we are truly doing all we can for people with autism. The first thing that needs to be done? We have to close the autism funding loophole in schools, the workforce, and the housing market.
What is the Autism Services and Funding Loophole?
Essentially, the Federal Government requires public schools to make accommodations (extra teachers, modified classwork, specialized technology, etc.) for children on the autism spectrum. But here’s the catch — they provide very little, if any, financial assistance for schools to provide such services.
This means parents are often forced to pay for tutors and additional services out of pocket — a cost many are unable to afford.
In the Workforce
People with autism are woefully under-represented in the workforce. One study suggested that nearly 70% of people with autism were underemployed or unemployed. Despite the fact that hiring people with autism has been shown to improve a business’ profits and overall morale, many companies are still unwilling to hire qualified people with autism.
In the Housing Market
Independent living is another major area that is dramatically underfunded and serviced. Currently, more than 80,000 people with autism are on waiting lists for residential placements. This number is only expected to increase over the next 10 years.
How We’re Working to Close these Loopholes
First and foremost, people in all industries and walks of life need to be more informed about autism. Despite the fact that one in 68 people in the United States has autism, many people still remain unaware of the condition and, more importantly, all the wonderful things people with autism have to offer.
Secondly, it’s important that each and every one of us make our voices heard and speak up for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.
It’s also important to realize that this is not just a problem in the United States. Across the country, people with autism are unable to receive the support they need. In a letter to the Canadian Government, Joanne Charron, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) parent commissioner, wrote:
“We find it paramount that the government sit down and re-look and re-organize the way they’re delivering education services.”
Many other parents and families in the United States and Canada have taken to filing a class action lawsuit against their respective governments, arguing that the lack of services provided to all children with special needs, including those on the autism spectrum, borders on unconstitutional.
At Spectrum Strategies, we’re dedicated to improving the social and professional lives of adults on the autism spectrum. We believe that through hard work, dedication, and persistence every adult is capable of achieving their dreams! Call (516) 822-3150 for your first one-on-one with Debra Solomon!