Monday, October 8, 2012

Experts brace for wave of autistic adults

By Erin Allday from SFGate


Guido Abenes appreciates their concern, but he'd really like his parents to stop worrying about him.

He's 25, he says, and he's doing fine. But he's also autistic, part of the generation of young adults who were born during the first big wave of autism cases in the United States two decades ago and are now struggling to strike out on their own.

"I tell them sometimes, 'Stop it, I'm doing things, I'm resourceful,' " said Abenes, who is a student at Cal State East Bay. "They're getting the message, I think. But they still worry."
Abenes, who wants to be a therapist someday and travel the world, is fortunate. He joined the College Internship Program in Berkeley, which provides him with a two-bedroom apartment he shares with a roommate, along with intensive, daily academic and developmental support to help him continue to thrive into adulthood.

But Abenes' situation is unusual, say autism advocates and experts, who are bracing for a flood of adults with autism who lack the support they had as children, and are entering a world that isn't ready for them.

Skyrocketing rates

It was in the late 1980s and early '90s that rates of autism started skyrocketing in the United States. A condition that once was considered rare, with fewer than 2 cases per 1,000 births in the United States, is now thought to afflict 1 in 88 children, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. It's unclear exactly what has caused the increase, but factors could include greater awareness and better diagnosing of the condition, as well as an actual rise in cases, perhaps related to environmental factors.

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