New Jersey has the highest autism rate in the nation, with one in every 45 children falling somewhere on the spectrum, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This series examines the implications of the growing prevalence of this
disorder and its impact on these children as they age out of high school
and enter adulthood.
The loss of an education entitlement, a drop in services, the struggle to find housing and unemployment woes all plague young people with autism. While state officials passionately work to overcome these setbacks, some parents and advocates believe the system is not ready to handle the flood of people with autism who will soon qualify for adult services.
This year is one of monumental change for Jeremy Myron, who turned 21 this month. After he graduates from Brick Township High School in June, he will embark on a journey to build a life without the castiron entitlements of his youth and the power to fight on his own behalf.
The chance for people with autism to effectively make the transition to adulthood hinges not only on the limited scope of incoming state services, but the real-world experience they gather in high school.
Like many typically developing individuals, people with autism often strive to find good, steady jobs as they enter adulthood.
A blend of housing and support services could mean happiness and security for people with autism, both while their parents are alive and long after they die, according to experts.
Jersey has steadily evolved since the mid-1900s, from a system keen on large-scale, segregated institutions to one that pushes for community-based living.
Kevin Petranich doesn’t hit the snooze button on his alarm clock or call in sick to work. His apartment is always in order and his meals freshly prepared. He volunteers and goes to community events on weekends, and enjoys annual vacations far from home.