Oct 13, 2016, WFMZ TV (Allentown, PA): Life Lessons: Training kids with autism for the workplace
The number of adults living with autism is growing every year. In Pennsylvania, authorities say the number has tripled in the last six years.
It's a particular concern for health care providers who want to try to help adults with autism live independently....
The unemployment rate of young adults with autism is estimated to be around 90 percent. In response, there's a new idea in the Lehigh Valley that aims to be life changing for the future of kids with autism. It's a program to let kids with autism figure out exactly what they can do so when they get out in the working world they can be successful.
CICS is in the midst of a major expansion and part of it will be Creative Abilities Vocational Initiative for high school students and young adults on the autism spectrum that will include a makerspace area for high school students and young adults on the autism spectrum and other neuro-diversities.
In Nov, 2014, Drexel University reported that Pennsylvania was providing services to over 55,000 children and adults with autism. (That was up from 20,000 five years earlier in 2009.)
This coverage from WFMZ sounds very progressive. People are addressing the needs of young adults with autism and making use of their skills. But it's also misleading the public. There is no mention of the rate of autism or the specific number of Pennsylvanians affected. The one statistic given, "the unemployment rate of young adults with autism is estimated to be around 90 percent," is merely said in passing, but it speaks volumes.
No one questions why nothing is being done about middle aged people with autism. Why are young adults the only concern?
The opening sentence, "The number of adults living with autism is growing every year," begs the question: WHY? If there has always been autism everywhere, shouldn't the number be pretty steady?
From 2009 to 2014 the autism numbers more than doubled. What if that continues and by 2020 there are over 100,000+ (mostly young peope) in the state with autism? When does this become more than "a particular concern for health care providers"? When does it start to be a crisis where we ask for some kind of explanation?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.