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Each day, we come across yet another story about issues related to children and young adults with autism.

More and more autism spectrum diagnoses are being made about these struggling young adults and, as a result, awareness is growing. The more awareness that is being garnered, the more guidance there will be to help parents better understand their teen’s unique behaviors and needs. Various types of services offer options for parents of teens with autism. However, what happens when these struggling young adults get older, and want to move on to college and establishing a career?

Increase in Autism?

The first thing that needs to be addressed is whether or not there really is an increase in autistic young adults, or if this alleged rise in the autistic spectrum diagnoses is just a result of there being more awareness about autism. To most experts in the field, the biggest factors that account for the rise in autism prevalence are the shifting definitions of the disorder and the growing awareness. Several decades after the introduction of autism as a valid diagnosis, professionals are still engaging in “diagnostic substitution,” wherein they move people from one category to another. In many cases, they are moving people from the diagnostic category of “mental retardation” to “autistic,” thus accounting for the rise of autistic spectrum diagnoses. How accurate is this diagnostic change, and is it doing these people more harm than good?

As it is, more than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. The prevalence of autism in US children increased by 119.4% from 2000 to 2010, making autism the fastest-growing developmental disorder.

So what can be done?

Not only do these struggling young adults need as much help as possible in dealing with educational and social issues, but the lifelong cost is staggering. It costs more than $8,600 extra annually to educate a student with autism, and a heartbreaking 35% of young adults with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education upon graduation from high school. Why is so little being done to help these struggling young adults? Scott Michael Robertson, an autistic self-advocate and vice president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network explains that the majority of media attention focuses exclusively on autistic children, yet ignores adolescents and adults. This significantly impacts the number of services available for autistic young adults. They are few and far between, which is why residential treatment centers are incredibly important and beneficial to the community – and to your young adult.

One such center, At The Crossroads, offers various programs to help struggling young adults, including those who have been diagnosed with autism. They tailor each student’s program to meet their own individual and specific needs and wants. They take into consideration each student’s interests, educational needs, and personal career goals. If your teen is struggling to deal with their autism, At The Crossroads may be the answer you need.

At The Crossroads is an Independent Living Program designed to help young adults ages 18-25 to become successful, self-sustaining individuals. To find out more, call us at (866) 439-0354.

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