Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, chair of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, and Senator Shirley L. Huntley are deeply concerned over the rising number of individuals with autism who are aging out of schools and have few places to turn.
Advocacy groups estimate that there will be a half million children with autism who will become adults in the next ten years. “The fact that there are few programs and services in place to provide and support this new wave of adults with autism is alarming. While services for adults do exist, they are unable to meet the rising number of individuals who need and rely on them,” stated the assemblyman.
One of the major challenges this new population faces is the lack of residential opportunities.
As their parents begin to age, and can no longer care for their autistic children at home, they are left with few options. The waiting lists for these facilities continue to become longer.
The assemblyman and senator have introduced a piece of legislation, which would require the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities to submit an updated waitlist and placement report to the Assembly and Senate. “A total of 27,211 persons with developmental disabilities over age 30 continue to live at home. It is not clear how many of these individuals require out of home placement. More importantly, critical information on the exact size and needs of the statewide waiting list is not readily available making it impossible for us to plan and budget accordingly,” stated Ortiz.
Senator Huntley, ranking member of the Senate Mental Health Committee, echoed Ortiz’s concerns, “Due to increasing aging population of persons with autism and other developmental disabilities it is imperative that additional resources are provided to this group of individuals to ensure that they can continue to receive services that will improve their quality of life. Out of home residential placements will be needed more than ever for this population and it is critically important we get accurate data on how many people are on these waitlists.”
The assemblyman and the senator firmly believe that steps need to be taken to accommodate this aging autistic population. “We cannot wait until it is too late. We need to begin to plan for the future of this population. This legislation is one of many steps that can be taken to prepare for when our autistic community can no longer live at home,” continued Ortiz.