As kids with autism grow into adults, what can parents do?
New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the nation: 1 in 34 children is on the autism disorder spectrum.
While the Garden State has many programs designed to meet the needs of autistic kids, when they enter adulthood things become more difficult.
Hundreds of parents will be attending a special transition conference in Woodbridge on Monday to hear from specialists about navigating the sometimes confusing and uncertain network of services for autistic adults.
“This conference gives them practical information. It gives them next steps and it also gives them a more concrete sense of what the future holds and what the realistic possibilities can be,” said Suzanne Buchanan, executive director, Autism New Jersey, the organization sponsoring the conference.
The event features 12 workshops and 50 exhibits covering legal, instructional, and service issues including accessing adult healthcare, appealing insurance denials, disability planning, community housing, self-regulation and problem-solving.
“We give them a bit of a roadmap of the journey ahead when it can seem very uncertain at times,” she said.
“We have speakers from the state division of developmental disabilities, we have clinicians we have attorneys, we have educators.”
Buchanan said many adults with autism “have difficulty finding appropriate employment opportunities that are a match for their interest and abilities. Some of them need more supervision and treatment services during the day.”
She pointed out as parents age, an autistic adult child may need residential placement and it may be extremely difficult to find one that offers appropriate support services.
“We simply don’t have enough programs that are available to meet the needs of adults with autism across the spectrum. We talk to parents every day who are struggling to find appropriate services.”
Buchanan said as more individuals are diagnosed with conditions on the autistic spectrum, demand for this kind of information grows.
She pointed out if parents were not able to attend this conference, which was closed weeks ago because the sign-up reached capacity, they can reach out to Autism New Jersey with specific questions and sign up for the organization’s main conference, which takes place in October.