Our April 16 broadcast on the 'support cliff' facing many parents of young adults with autism as they age out of school support systems. We were stunned by the sheer number of listeners who called in with their stories of parenting these young adults and finding ways to continue to provide care for them.
"This is the first time I've broken up about this," caller Lisa from Nashville told today. "I have a 21-year old daughter here in Nashville. She has moderately severe autism, severe speech impairment, intellectual disabilities."
A backlog of applicants waiting for state support in Nashville has lead Lisa to leave her state once her daughter ages out of the school-age care currently provided her.
"My plan is to relocate and to leave the state of Tennessee," Lisa told us. "We'll be able to provide housing for her, but how can a family that's not making 300,000 and up provide that 24/7 care that she needs? There is no safety net for these people."
Other callers, like Maisel in New Orleans, found school-age care for children with autism no better than the nonexistent care for adults.
"My son has autism, he's 15 years old," Maisel told us. "For the past two years, I have been homeschooling him. The school system didn't work for my son."
And caller Jane, from Hartford, CT, told us what life can sometimes look like when further complications arise in adult autistic care.
"My son is 23 years old, and we fell off the cliff that everybody talks about two years ago," Jane said. "Graduation is so happy for people, but it was a very different feeling for my son. We took what we had saved for my son's college fund to buy a house and hire staff."
But Jane's husband was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, and the work she's been doing to work with her young son has been entirely on her shoulders.
We want to hear YOUR stories of caring for adults with different stages of autism. How do you handle the 'support cliff'? Where do you turn for help?