CT Autism Report: A Personal Perspective

Jim and Liam

(WTNH)– Think of it as the other shoe finally falling. When autism rates began multiplying in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it was the question that constantly loomed: how are we going to take care of all these (now) children when they move towards and into adulthood?

Well, the future is now for families like mine.  Our son, Liam, was diagnosed with autism in 1999.  Now he’s 17, and as fine a young guy as you’ll ever see. But he has significant, and likely permanent, delays; no speech, no skills, needs 24/7 care and attention.  When we moved to Connecticut last summer, my wife found placement for him in a wonderful school.  So we’re good.  For now.

But like thousands of other Connecticut families, as adulthood looms for our autistic kids, new worries now crowd our days, our sleep, our lives.  How will Liam fare when he “ages out” of state-mandated care at 21? Where will he go as we age? After we’re gone?

Heavy stuff. So three big cheers for the report issued yesterday by the CT legislature, showing that the transition from teenager to adult needs to be bridged better, and started earlier, with appropriate housing as the key issue.  Quoting from the report, which you can read in its entirely here, “New and creative ways of developing housing solutions must be examined to address the oncoming wave of individuals with autism-spectrum disorder.”  The study also found that preparation for adult life, which now begins at age 16, needs to start much sooner.

Families like mine know that already, but it’s great to see the state and our elected representatives move forward with this crucial matter.  Bills will be proposed next month based on the report, and I hope they proceed quickly through the legislative process.  My family will be deeply grateful, and, somewhere inside the head of that handsome boy of mine, I like to think Liam will be, too.

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