#Autism, #AgingandAutismThinkTank, #DiagnosticandStatisticalManual, #AutismCanada, #DermotCleary, #LaurieMawlam, #VivianLy, #CanadianAutisticsUnited
Ottawa, Apr 6 (Canadian-Media): There is at present, a lack of available resources to take care of the challenges faced by autistic seniors or to understand their specific needs, media reports said.
The study Aging and Autism Think Tank -- compiled by academics, clinicians and autistic adults from five different countries and released by Autism Canada -- pointed out that autism as a term is confined only to childhood, leaving older population
The research evolved over decades and the programs resulting from it, said the report of the study, have been focused almost exclusively on children.
"[Autism] is absolutely misunderstood at a societal level, but even more concerning is that it's misunderstood among clinicians and caregivers and professionals," said Kevin Stoddart, a member of the think-tank and director of Toronto's Redpath Centre for autistic people of all ages.
"That lack of understanding can really do harm and affect somebody's long-term outcome really adversely if they're not diagnosed and supported in ways consistent with autism."
Though autism was first identified in 1943, said the report, it did not enter the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual until 1980.
Laurie Mawlam, executive director with Autism Canada – the organization which advocates on behalf of autistic people -- said her organization is facing increasing pressure to fill the gap between children who are well-supported through their youth are left with few to no resources once they turn 18.
Autism Canada. Image credit: Facebook page
The think-tank's report also highlighted that those with autism and co-occurring conditions struggle to communicate the exact nature of their pain or other symptoms, resulting in misinterpreting their behaviours by medical professionals.
"More research is needed on how co-occurring medical conditions contribute to behavior and experiences, and how this changes with age, thus shifting the focus from behavior management to the biological causes of behavior," the report said.
Vivian Ly of Canadian Autistics United said the conversation the think-tank is promoting is necessary and "a long time coming."
Ly praised the group's emphasis on wider inclusion of autistic people from all walks of life, genders and ethnic backgrounds,
"Rhetoric about finding a cure for autism is concerning," Ly said, noting such conversations make false assumptions about the value of autistic people's lives. "My hope is that researchers move away from curing autism and move towards supporting autistic people in living full, authentic lives."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)