Autism is a developmental disorder that is caused by mutations in certain genes. This condition is probably linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain, but the scientists do not know what exactly goes wrong in the brains of the affected people. In most patients, first signs of autism appear in the first three years of life. There is no cure for autism and no one has recovered from this disease. However, special education programs and behavior therapy may help these patients to acquire certain essential skills such as self-care, social and job skills. In many cases, patients with autism will even decrease the severity of their symptoms and maladaptive behaviors.
Prognosis for autism
Development of patients with autism is severely impaired, but most of them acquire language skills by the age five. However, the remaining problems lie in lack of social support, lack of meaningful relationships, no future employment opportunities or no self-determination. Adults with autism may have more chances of living their lives more fully if they acquire language skills before the age of six, if they have an IQ above 50, and if they have mastered at least one marketable skill. However, this happens only in some rare cases and most commonly, patients with autism have more or less limited autonomy.
Life arrangement for adults with autism
Some adults with high-functioning autism may work successfully in the mainstream jobs. However, the lack of understanding from the environment may often cause difficulties in many areas of their life. These people, no matter how functional they are, need constant support and encouragement. Today, there are even managers trained for working especially with persons with disabilities, and many sheltered workshops that offer job opportunities for people with autism.
Some adults with autism are even able to live completely on their own, while the others need to live semi-independently and rely on caregivers for dealing with personal finances and similar issues. There are also government funds available for families that choose to have their adult member with autism live at home: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicaid waivers, and others.
Another option is living in foster or skill-development homes. This may be a good surrounding for a patient, since he or she can master different self-care and housekeeping skills, as well as leisure activities.
People with the most severe type of autism will probably need constant supervision. Their choice is a long-term care facility.