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Is Enough Being Done for the Growing Adult Population with Autism?

Written by: Kelly Rangel, Healthcare Practice

In the past decade, the prevalence of autism has increased to 1 in every 68 children – 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls, per the Center for Disease Control. The CDC brings up a good point:

“Is autism truly on the rise, or do the new statistics simply reflect the growing awareness of the condition, the expanded definition, and other factors?”

It is estimated that about 1.5 million people in the US have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but the exact population count with autism is unknown. To generalize, the support services available include early
intervention, child programs, young adult programs, and adult programs. It makes sense that those in a child program will morautism adult2e than likely transition into an adult program. But there appears to be a limit on the adult services available. Imagine having services available for your child, and then, at a certain age, services are limited, or you get wait-listed, or programs do not exist in your community.
Over the past few years there has been a strong focus on establishing and advancing agendas for early intervention, and insurance coverage for children with ASD, but there has not been much focus on the adult population.

“We cannot wait any longer to take action on this concern.”

Per Angela Lello, Director of Housing and Community Living at Autism Speaks, “more than 50,000 individuals with autism transition into adulthood every year, the support services are already being outpaced by their demand.”
The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act of 2014, also known as the Autism Cares Act, dedicated $1.3 billion over five years to fund autism research and detect gaps in the support for children and adults with autism who are aging out of the childhood programs and transitioning into those designed for adults.

Chris SmithThis Act is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done quickly. Per the bill’s early co-sponsor Rep. Chris Smith, “… In light of the severity of the aging-out crisis, we must do more – and fast – and ensure we are providing a comprehensive and thorough review of available services, and those we need to create.”
As a Recruiter in the ABA field, I find most Behavior Analyst prefer to work with children with autism and/or developmental disabilities rather than the adult population. There are a number of factors behind this preference, such as, some believe they have a stronger positive impact/outcome with children rather than those who have already reached adulthood, and others fear for personal safety while working with the adult population. I believe one main factor could be there are simply more career opportunities in the ABA field for those willing to work with children versus adults.
Fact is, the number of children being diagnosed with autism is growing at an alarming rate and, in the next 10-15 years, these children will become adults.

Do you believe enough is being done in a timely fashion to ensure we have adequate resources available for the increasing adult population with autism?

I encourage your feedback and would like to connect with you on LinkedIn. You can learn more about me at also you can follow me on twitter @kellyrangelTI as I focus on helping those within the world of Autism. Learn more about TYGES at, on Twitter @TYGESInt, or here on our blog at

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We’re here to make good things happen to other people.


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