undiagnosed in the USA today.
Per the USA’s Center For Disease Control (CDC) there are 5,437,988 autistic adults as described by those being over age 18 upward in the USA today. CDC claims this statistic as 2 percent of today’s population in the USA. Census numbers after 2020 may drive that number still higher.
A notice posted April 27, 2020 claims the CDC has determined these numbers so that states can be aided in budgeting and planning funds, etc. regarding diagnosis and support (“treatment”) for autistic adults. All states now require insurance plans to cover diagnosis and supportive therapies for autistic adults. Children ageing out of the system, which used to close at the age limit of 18, are now going to be supported as adults as well.
The happy side effect of parents of today’s early diagnosed children’s and young adults’ activism ( this was entirely unintentional, I am sure within myself) is the new availability this could give older autistic adults in this country for access to diagnosis and support.
Support plans will soon be in place for adult autistic folks. Will elders once more be overlooked as focus is on the younger generations, with most Americans never suspecting the hidden millions of autistic adults struggling without diagnosis and support that many so desperately need?
Educators of those already practicing diagnosis and those now just learning how to diagnose and recognize autism must learn how autism displays differently in all adults and how diagnosis of adult females may be more complicated than today’s standard diagnostic criteria.
Statistics posted by the CDC show that males ( children) are still diagnosed at much higher rates than females.
There are no known statistics on how many adults have been diagnosed, or the proportion of males to females who have received late diagnosis.
I see the CDC’s post as a ” first light ” showing in the attempts to find diagnosis for all age and gender groups who have struggled lifetimes with autism and never knew, never had help, never suspected.
I have been feeling frustrated and discouraged lately. My personal plans to offer local talks and information to local groups likely to encounter un-diagnosed autistic elders has been completely shut down by Covid restrictions.
Now I am considering a different, possibly more effective approach to gaining more diagnostic and support structure for older adults with autism.
College classrooms are the places that need to offer more information about autism and how it presents in adults and the elderly. Professional groups for individual practices need to be alerted to the presence of adult autistic people. Political entities who plan and portion out those huge budgets need to know about adult autism. The list of places to raise awareness is practically limitless!
As a group, older autistic adults need to speak out about finding diagnosis, and need to bring attention to the need for support, to organize much as the parents of autistic children have.
If population statistics are correct, the adults in the USA who are autistic out number the children who have been diagnosed up to age 18 .
Time to speak up and ask for educated diagnostic and support systems.. Laws for insurance coverage have changed. Colleges and other schools need to be aware and make changes to provide for the future.
Baby boomers will all be over the age of 65 by the year 2030, just 10 short years from now. Will elderly autistic populations get the support they/we will need as they/we age and rely on others for our medical and physical decline as we grow older?
Will young adults “ageing” into the system get the support they need? CDC has taken the first step by providing numbers and an “authoritative” source of information on which individual states will be basing plans now required by law.
Many of us will be watching with interest.
If we are able, most of us ( ageing adults who are autistic, whether formally diagnosed or not) can help raise awareness and place social pressure by making lots of noise to legislators, planners, providers. Call, text, write letters, email, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, contact local TV or radio outlets…. whatever you can do, we need each other right now.
The demand is there, we know it, but I am not sure that those in the places we need to reach are hearing us. Please do what you can!