Autism in Adulthood: The New Home for Our Emerging Field

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Autism in Adulthood

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Autistic people -- Services, Autism -- Research -- Citizen participation


About a decade ago, when I mentioned to a colleague that I had received an autism-related research grant, a perplexed look came across his face. “But you aren't a pediatrician, are you?” he asked. Although I wanted to respond with a snarky remark about autistic children* not just vanishing into thin air when they turn 21, I knew his confusion was perfectly reasonable. The overwhelming majority of autism research, services, and advocacy has focused on children. As an internal medicine physician, I care for primarily middle-aged and older adults. Autism—and autistic adults—has existed throughout history, likely with little change in actual prevalence over time,1 but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) only first mentioned autism in 1980 and Asperger's disorder in 1995, long after most of my patients had grown up. Before my own child was diagnosed with autism in 2004, I only knew of two autistic adults on my entire panel of patients.


Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers



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