Families are facing limited housing options as an increasing number of individuals with autism enter adulthood, a new survey suggests.
The vast majority of adults and transition-age individuals with autism are currently living at home and less than one-quarter said they are on waiting lists for housing services so that they could live more independently.
The findings “underscore the overwhelming need for more housing and residential support options and services,” said Lisa Goring, vice president of family services at Autism Speaks, which conducted the online survey of more than 8,600 caregivers and nearly 400 individuals with autism across the country.
The results are being released Wednesday at the advocacy group’s policy summit in Washington, D.C.
Over 70 percent of people with autism said they would like to live in a single-family home, with a suburban setting being the most preferred option. The majority said it was important to live near family, but survey respondents were split about whether or not living with a roommate would be good.
Practically speaking, however, financial concerns loomed large as a potential barrier to achieving housing goals. Only about 30 percent of caregivers said they expect to be able to help finance a home for their loved one with autism. And, just a quarter of those surveyed said they are currently saving money to account for future housing needs.
Meanwhile, caregivers also expressed concerns about individuals with autism being treated with care and respect when living on their own.
“Certainly one of the take-aways for us is there needs to be more education for families in terms of what options may be available,” said Goring who pointed to housing and rental assistance vouchers as well as home and community-based services waivers as some options that are currently available.
Nonetheless, Goring acknowledged that those programs have limits and said Autism Speaks plans to advocate for expanded offerings for adults on the spectrum.
“It’s not one size fits all,” she said. “People with autism should have the same types of choices as everyone else.”