Talking about ASD
Talking about Autism Spectrum Disorder
There are lots of different ways to talk about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We can talk about ASD medically, we can describe it through behaviour, we can talk about prevalence rates, we can talk about early detection and the importance of early evidence-based intervention, we can talk about the need for support for people with ASD across a lifespan, or we can talk about why advocacy is vital for building communities equipped to meet and support the changing needs of people on the spectrum.
It’s easy to think about ASD as a diagnosis; however, we are not talking about a diagnosis. We are talking about a person. We are talking about a person with individual needs and loving family members. We are talking about a person who needs to be accepted and included in their community. We are talking about a person who should be granted equal opportunity preparing for and succeeding in adulthood.
Focusing on the full life of a person with autism
ASD doesn’t go away in adulthood! The system in Ontario must be responsive to the needs of youth transitioning into adulthood. After high school, there is little support for youth and young adults looking to access post-secondary education or employment opportunities. While early intervention and services for children are critical, attention must also be given to the wide-range and overlooked needs of older youth and adults with ASD.
Unfortunately, supports and services for adults on the spectrum are inadequate and fragmented and fail to address needs across the entire lifespan. There is a societal cost to families withdrawing from the workplace to act as caregivers, increasing responsibility as parents age and resources diminish. Housing for people with ASD continues to be segregated and expensive. People with ASD require affordable, safe, supported residences, where they are a meaningful part of their communities.
Because ASD changes over time – in its expression, challenges and delights – Ontario must be prepared to support children, youth and adults within the context of development, learning, family and community. Supportive, understanding and inclusive communities ensure that each person with ASD is provided the means to achieve quality of life as a respected member of society.