Autistic Adults - The Underworld
Ever since I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism last July, I've seen some horrible numbers associated with Autism. I've also noticed a distinct weighting towards children when it comes to discussion of autism. Search on autism and unless you input the term 'adult' into the search field, the information you find will most likely be focused on supporting parents and teachers. In other words, it's all about raising and taking responsibility for autistic children. You can replicate this on social media. With so much focus on supporting children, I thought I'd take a simple look at some of the hard realities facing autistic adults. This blog post gives some context to my infographic that I've posted on social media, and you can find it at the bottom.
Autism and Adults
1%. That just 1% of all worldwide funding for research and support should be directed towards autistic adults is terrifying. This is the scariest number of all. Yes, it's vital that people should be diagnosed as early as possible, in childhood, and receive relevant support as early as possible too. That, however, doesn't mean that the weighting should be 99%/1%. This drastic split drops us into the underworld just as the nature of our lives change completely. As adults, we have to navigate a complex world of independence, job hunting, networking, bill paying, and relationships. Given that we spend approximately 80% of our lives as adults, these numbers become all the more ridiculous.
33%. That such a high percentage of autistic adults should have severe mental health issues is scary, but not surprising given how little funding we receive. As we advance through life we face a whole series of new challenges. Yet it's at the moment that this journey begins that support is withdrawn. My first experience of that was simply waiting for a diagnosis. It was 9 months from referral to diagnosis. So far, diagnosis is all I've received too. A support plan, subject to funding, of course, has failed to materialise. I found out earlier today that the clinical psychologist behind it, who diagnosed me, has since left the centre I was referred to. How many other conditions would see no treatment, support or intervention after this length of time?
60p. Adult autism costs the UK economy £29 billion each year and the research spending per autistic adult is 60p. Child autism meanwhile costs the UK economy £3.1 billion each year and the research spending per autistic child is £6.60. To give even greater contrast, the cost of adult autism to the UK economy is greater than cancer, heart disease and strokes combined.
We do Not Belong in the Underworld
Of course, child autism, cancer, heart disease and strokes are serious and nothing I've written should be taken as minimising their effect or the consequences of them. However, the seriousness of those conditions does nothing to change the fact that autistic adults are being abandoned. Please also remember what happens to every autistic child: they become an autistic adult. There's no cure for autism, so 100% of autistic children become autistic adults. We face what can be a complex, difficult life, and without good friends, we all too often face it alone.
I hope this raises your awareness of the scale of difficulty that autistic adults face. Are you an autistic adult or a parent of an autistic child worried about their future as an adult? Are you campaigning for greater focus on autistic adults? It'd be great if you commented or shared this if you find it expresses your concerns. You can also find me on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Here's the infographic: