Dateline NBC On the Brink looks at young Autistic adults and lack of services

Nick and his sister and parents on graduation day

By Debra Muzikar

Tonight Dateline NBC aired “On the Brink,” a program about young autistic adults aging out of services.

“It’s a tsunami of children who are aging to adult life” Linda Walder of Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, a think-tank for innovative programming for adults on the spectrum, says. 1/2 million children are aging out of services in the next ten years.

For the last 3 years Dateline has followed two New York families.

The program is a heart-felt look at two parents and their Autistic sons. The lack of programs after the students turn 21 is distressing. Both Eric and Nick regress after leaving school.

Nick and his sister and parents on graduation day
Nick and his sister and parents on graduation day

Eighty percent of autistic adults under 30 live at home. Over eighty percent are unemployed.

Eric participates at Pure Vision Arts in Manhattan
Eric participates at Pure Vision Arts in Manhattan

“The system is broken,” Linda Walder says, “It doesn’t provide for adults on the spectrum.”

Both Eric and Nick lose skills after they leave school because of lack of services. Eric’s mom is an artist and involved Eric in art, music therapy, and going to the gym.

Dayhabs, state programs, which are warehouses for adults with developmental disabilities are poor options. The show showed a bleak building surrounded by bob-wired fences.

22,000 people are on the waiting list in Florida, where Nick’s family is thinking of moving. “The only good thing we have here is weather,” one service provider tells Lenore, Nick’s mom.

Dateline points out the most successful people on the spectrum come from families with high expectations.

Good news is portrayed in the program. Eric learns to take the subway independently, and now participates in Pure Vision Arts, an innovative art program in Manhattan. You can see Eric’s art here.

Eric Sadowsky "Drinks" Pure Vision Arts
Eric Sadowsky “Drinks” Pure Vision Arts

Pure Vision Arts is profiled in this month’s Smithsonian’s magazine. Eric recently showed his work at the Outsider Art Fair in New York, one of the biggest public art shows in the world.

Nick attains self-determination funding and his services improve.

This Dateline program is a first-step in showing the problem we have in our country with lack of services for adults on the autism spectrum.

Kate Snow and the Producer at Dateline shared the 2020 Federal Transition Plan as a resource today on their twitter account. This is a must resource for all families with children with developmental disabilities over the age of 14.

In the past, The Art of Autism has featured many innovative programs for adults on the spectrum including Hidden Wings, Autistry Studios, The College of Adaptive Arts and Jeremiah’s Ranch, and SEEDS for Autism in Phoenix.

The Art of Autism has also compiled a directory of programs and studios which I add to regularly across the United States and Canada.

The full hour is available for view here.

3 replies on “Dateline NBC On the Brink looks at young Autistic adults and lack of services”
    1. says: Debbie

      High expectations and more programs!!! We also need programs designed by autistic people themselves.

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