Addressing Residential Care Needs of Autistic Adults is New Brunswick's Top Autism Priority
Posted Sep 07 2010 5:04pm
Autism is NOT only a childhood disorder. Autistic children grow up and become adults and many will not lose entirely their autism challenges. While recovery has been reported in some credible agencies by means of intensive early intervention and addressing related biomedical issues many autistic adults will require assisted living and some will require secure residential facilities and access to specialized services and treatments. In New Brunswick both autism advocates and government began to make progress in providing autism services first to preschoolers and subsequently to autistic school children. But little substantial progress has been made in provision of decent residential care to autistic adults.
The group home system in New Brunswick is not a success. As a lawyer I have represented autistic youths in the Courts in New Brunswick who could not function in New Brunswick group homes. I have seen cases where such youths were charged as a result of alleged assaults arising out of confrontations between youths with autism or Aspergers and untrained staff. I visited the Centracare facility in Saint John and the Campbellton psychiatric hospital in Saint John where some of our most severely autistic adults have resided. I know that some have been sent out of the country for periods of time to facilities in the United States. I received an email from a parent in Saint John whose autistic child essentially lived on a hospital ward.
Some autistic children will benefit greatly from the ABA services now available in New Brunswick, services which were not widely available 10 years ago. Some will live independent lives but others will not. If we do not focus, if we, government and parents, do not advocate now for autistic adults and make it a top autism priority more autistic children will grow up and live on hospital wards in Saint John and Campbellton.
Adult autism residential care is a long overdue priority for autism advocacy and services. If we do not focus on the provision of adult autism care now it will not get done. More of New Brunswick's autistic children will grow up and live their lives in conditions no one wishes for their children.
Parents, grandparents, family members and friends of autistic children and adults in New Brunswick. People are knocking on your door during this election. They are asking for your vote. Tell them we need a modernized residential care system for autistic adults. Better still don't wait for them to knock on your door. Email them, FACEBOOK them, tweet them, write them. Call their campaign office. But let them know that adult residential care is New Brunswick's top autism priority. Let's focus. Let's make it happen.