Adults with Autism Left to Fend for Themselves


Whilst there are many statutory frameworks in place for post 16 and 19 education, many adults are still badly let down by the system and are being left without the support they need.

Adult autism support is lacking

Adults Receive Less Support than Young People

A recent study in by Sweden's Karolinska Institute made this more apparent than ever – it found that people with autism die on average 16 years earlier than the general population. The charity Autistica is to begin a research programme to find out exactly why this is, but immediate criticisms suggest the main reason for these early deaths is that adults with autism simply don't receive the support they need.

Mathieu Vaillancourt is a writer and policy analyst, he has autism and in an article for the Independent he said:

"While it's great that a lot of resources are being offered to young people with autism, there's less support out there for adults like me living with autism. I was diagnosed almost 15 years ago, as a teenager, and support was there at the time. Now I'm an adult, though my condition and needs are the same, it isn't."

"Autism is not the kind of condition where someone is "cured" at the age of 18. The challenges faced by people with autism change and evolve, and perhaps they are different at an older age – but they don't disappear."

Adults in Care Are Being Failed

By law, when a person with autism reaches the age of 18, they are classed as an adult and their parents can no longer make decisions for them. This can cause problems for parents who find themselves left in the dark when it comes to their son or daughter's care.

This was the case for the parents of Connor Sparrowhawk after he began staying at an assessment and treatment unit. Speaking to the Guardian, his mother Sara Ryan said:

"They said, 'we can't be told about his medical records without his permission, because he's an adult.' We were like, he can't even cross the road by himself."

They also soon began to believe that the care he was receiving wasn't sufficient; Sara notes how she had to inform staff that Connor had suffered an epileptic seizure as she visited and found his tongue had been bitten. Connor died from drowning in a bathtub after only a few months at the unit, an inquest found serious failings in care had contributed to his death.

Legal Advice For Adults With Autism

Simpson Millar's Education and Community Care team provide advice and support to individuals with autism who are struggling to access appropriate assistance. If you or an adult you know isn't receiving the education, health or social care they need, then our specialists could be able to help.

For advice on your options, you can speak to our experts today on 0808 129 3320.

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