Linda H. Davis wrote an April 4th column in the Washington Post that a tidal wave of autistic children will be entering adulthood over the next 15 years, numbering more than 380,000 people.  They will need extensive adult services, including housing, day programs, transportation to and from social programs and jobs, more-than-average medical care, supervision and oversight. The price of the adult services and care necessary to support these autistic adults will affect all Americans, not only those who have autistic children. The bill for the tide of autistic children entering adulthood over the next 15 years will rise steadily, reaching an estimated $27 billion annually in current, non-inflation-adjusted dollars by the end of that period. The cost of providing care will equal a third of this year’s budget for the Department of Health and Human Services and be larger than the entire current budget of the Energy Department.

Yet the challenges of adult autism are overlooked, she says, as we continue to focus on whether vaccines cause autism, the need for a cure, and how best to educate children with autism. Autistic adults are relegated to the sidelines. All we get from the White House, Davis says, is a “worryingly broad, detail-free promise.”

An excerpt:

In 15 years, the cost of care just for the autistic children entering adulthood over that time will be about equal to the current state budget of Tennessee. Meanwhile, services are dangerously strained, and the influx of autistic adults is underway. This country urgently needs to focus on adult autism, new models of care and new sources of funding. Before the looming tidal wave delivers another crushing blow to our economy, we should have a national discussion. It should begin today.

(Shout out and thank you to Patricia E. Bauer at Disability News for bringing Linda Davis’ article to my attention through a recent post on her excellent blog.)