As a mother of a high-functioning daughter, diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and as a person, myself, with what I am convinced is an undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder who is still in search of answers for my life, I am passionate to see funds be released to provide more services of different kinds for adults with autism. When many of us think of autism, the first picture that comes to mind tends to be of a child. There are many, growing funds for a wide variety of autism services for children and teenagers. Enthusiasm is high for early childhood intervention. During the school years, children and teenagers are entitled to a wide variety of special education services. This entitlement ends when they reach the age of majority. After the age of 18, adults with autism and the families who care for them, are pretty much on their own with limited direction, support or resources. Autism, whether we speak of classic, more severe autism or the higher-functioning forms of autism, is a lifelong developmental disability. Even when children are fortunate enough to get early childhood intervention and make strong progress because of it, they do not "outgrow" autism and likely continue to need support services.
Federal funds exist for autism in the form of $693 million that was originally meant for the Combating Autism Act of 2011 and signed into law by President Obama on September 20, 2011 (http://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/federal). But these $$$ were never appropriated. This legislation was meant for young people under age 21 and so this petition calls for a better quality of life for children and teens with autism and for expanded services for those from low-income families, among other things. Another $238 million was set aside for "autism initiatives" in 2012, but these expired in September 2012 (http://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/19-million-risk-new-autism-research, Sept. 19, 2012). This petition calls for these $$$ to not only be re-newed but to be re-allocated to fund the programs for adults with autism that are outlined in the petition letter to Congress and the President. These $$$ total $931 for autism!