According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, not enough is being done to help autistic people, especially as they become adults.
Recent research has revealed relatively poor health outcomes over the lifespan among adults with ASD, finding that when compared with the general population, those with ASD:
- Die an average of 16 years earlier;
- Are 40 times more likely to die prematurely of a neurological condition (such as epilepsy) if they also have an intellectual disability;
- Are nine times more likely to die from suicide;
- Are at heightened risk for conditions such as depression and anxiety; and
- Are at higher risk for other non-communicable diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The need for improved individualized planning, access to support services, and specialized health care through the transition period to adulthood and beyond is vital for improving the health outcomes and community integration for youth with ASD. Currently, only about 1 percent of autism research, both private and publicly funded, is devoted to ASD in adulthood, including the transition to adulthood. More research on transition issues, as well as development and evaluation of models of appropriate care and service delivery, are an urgent public health need, as a half million youth with ASD will become adults over the next decade.
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