When I see one of those parenting memes that say something like, “You know you have done your job right when they move out and live independently,” I cry.
My son is autistic. He is smart, but he is on the edge — the line organizations draw in the sand. He doesn’t qualify for help. He needs help. He will be 18 years old soon.
You see, we live in Ontario, Canada. Cutbacks are abundant for services needed. Each year the government makes more cuts, and more people are left out. The second my autistic son turns 18 years old, there are no services. Oh sure, we could pay privately, about $90,000 a year. Just a second while I go climb my money tree.
They will tell you the services are there… if your child is homeless. If your child assaults a police officer. If your child is on drugs or in an abusive situation. They do not tell you what that may really mean: your child may be put in solitary confinement in a psych ward at a hospital until an opening comes… which is five to 10 years, if at all, since your child now has a roof over their head.
There is a program here called Developmental Services Ontario. You can get services if you have an IQ of 70 or lower. They provide help such as grocery shopping, paying bills, helping out around the house, to allow the adult in need independent living without the need of expensive special housing. My son has an IQ of 74. He cannot read, write, or articulate. He’s considered nonverbal. He can do visual perception skills, blocks, 3D building on the IQ test, bringing his score up.
Why isn’t the requirements for DSO based entirely on Adaptive Living Skills instead of IQ? A low IQ does not mean lack of living skills and a high IQ does not mean an abundance of living skills. Adults do have their ALS tested at the third round of the application process. That’s right, there are three steps, and even after all that, you can still be turned down.
Step one: IQ on psychological assessment. Step two: meet with parent/caregiver and adult-child. Step three: ALS assessment alone with adult in need. My son can’t get past stage one. The cutbacks made the requirements more stringent because they don’t have the funds to accommodate everyone in need. I guess the government believes only rich people can have autistic children?
My husband and I are extremely concerned for our son’s future. We are appealing our application in the hopes of services, with the help of our son’s psychologist. There are no guarantees. Housing is scarce, but there is hope if he can get DSO.
Our son will happily live with us forever. He does not have a drug problem. He is not violent. We have no problem having him stay home with us. He’s a great, funny, loving guy. However, if we die, my son is left without help.
If you would like to read more: “Forgotten: Ontario adults with autism and adults with Asperger’s” by AutismOntario.com (PDF)
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