With well over a million people living with Autism in the United States alone, no one can deny that the condition is becoming more and more common. The majority of people with autism are children, but once they grow up, will America be ready to offer the services and support many of them will need?
Over the next two decades, caregivers will be in peak demand due to the retiring baby boomers, who are set to make up the largest population of elderly people in United States history. The money saved in Social Security and budgeted for Medicare and Medicaid are already stretched thin, and experts believe they will be woefully inadequate compared to the flood of support seekers.
US News and World Report Health and Wellness reporter Amir Khan reports on the case of 24 year old New York City resident, Andrew Duff. Duff was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder just before his third birthday, and his family promptly enrolled him in early intervention therapy which spent years teaching him how to walk, talk, and interact with others.
By the fifth grade, Andrew spoke and communicated so well he was removed from all special classes and programs. Duff's family praises early intervention as the key to Andrew's amazing progress, and while it must be stressed the Andrew's case is by no means normal or to be expected, early intervention programs do seem to have an amazing positive effect on autistic children, even giving a lucky few like Andrew Duff a normal, productive life.
Duff now works as a Production Assistant for Autism Speaks, and also travels the country as a performance artist. Most people are surprised to hear that he has ASD.
As Duff, and many others who may require regular care for their entire lives get older and move out of child services, an infrastructure must be established to provide adults with ASD the care and support they'll need. The total amount of care needed in the the US will continue to increase, and America's $522 Billion in unpaid caregiving will keep rising.
Read the full US News and World Report article here.
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