Every 11 minutes a child in the US is born who will be diagnosed with autism. As things stand today, they will spend the majority of their lives as adults in a world of few opportunities. In the next four years, 200,000 people on the autism spectrum will turn 21—the age at which federally mandated services stop. They will join the millions of adults with disabilities who face decades-long waitlists for residential services and little or no opportunity for employment or social interaction.
U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD)
Madison House Autism Foundation, one of the few national organizations focusing on autism after age 21, is working to change that future. U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, in collaboration with MHAF, has declared April 21 “Autism After 21 Day,” representing the age when federally mandated services for children end and adulthood begins. By this action, we hope to draw attention to the fact that many autistic adults need the national acceptance of their gifts and challenges even while most still require support services for productive and fulfilling lives. Read Van Hollen’s official statement below.[pullquote1 align=”center” variation=”blue” cite=”U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen”]In America today, there is a population that has gone unrecognized. The conversation on autism has long ignored Autistic adults. For this reason, I rise to recognize April 21 to be noted as “Autism after 21 Day” – representing the age when services for children end and services for adulthood begins. In declaring this day, we draw attention to the fact that there are many adults that need to have a country aware of their gifts and challenges. This is a step in helping to create a brighter future for these adults and the people who care about them. I am proud to have organizations in my Congressional district that work hard to address these needs. In conjunction with their work and the needs of those that are adults on the Autism Spectrum, we are calling for “Autism after 21 Day” to acknowledge the many people who are navigating adulthood and wanting to reach their full potential. With our help, that journey may not be as lonely and isolated; rather, the individuals can be recognized as an important part of our community. Twenty-six years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Autistic adults deserve access to the goals set by the ADA: equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.[/pullquote1]
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