To parents of autistic children, 22 is a dreaded number

Working with clients who have autistic children, I have come to appreciate their unique viewpoints regarding their child’s progress through life. Because of that I now appreciate that one of the more traumatic parts of their parenting comes when their adult autistic offspring turn 22 years old.

A recent Boston Globe article does a very good job at explaining how turning 22 for an autistic child means that their social system supports are eliminated from their lives.

These supports include:

  • State-funded special education programs come to an end
  • Any jobs or volunteer situations arranged through the education programs also end
  • Social connections with teachers and mentors
  • Residential living arrangements expire

A parent quoted in the article describes it as ‘like going over a cliff’.

It can seem to many parents much the same as when their child was first diagnosed. At that time they focussed on seeking out the most appropriate social programs available to assist their child’s unique needs. As parents with an autistic offspring hitting 22, they find themselves scrambling once again to pull together a meaningful, supportive life for their adult child.

There are indeed adult services in place but serving those with autism within that system is still problematic. That noted, state services are starting to catch on likely due to stats like one noted in the article that 500,000 young adults with autism will age out of publicly funded day and residential special-education programs nationwide over the next ten years.

At Generation Law, we assist clients with autistic children, adult or younger, in their estate plans complete with powers of attorney and advanced directives all designed to assist their children after they pass.

This look into their life struggles at this critical juncture of their children’s lives is worth a read if only to underline the importance of preparing in advance to ensure that your children are safe to the end of your – and their – days.

To read the Boston Globe article, click here.