Challenges faced when your child grows up with autism
Every year in the United States, about 50,000 children with autism turn 18.
They are no longer kids.
Working partnership with out parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, we want to keep you informed about important health and safety matters.
We believe it's our responsibility and privilege.
April is Autism Awareness Month.
In this Sinclair Cares report, Jennifer Gilbert shows you the challenges families face, when children with autism grow up.
In the basement of his Maryland home, Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer, B.J. Surhoff, reflects on his major league career.
But it's his role as a dad that has brought the most rewards and the most struggles.
BJ and his wife Polly have four grown children including Mason, who just turned 25, and still needs help shaving.
Mason has autism, and taking care of him is a full time job.
"If we didn't have a day program similar to what Mason's a part of, we wouldn't have a life."
Mason spends his days at Itineris, a day program that provides young adults with autism, with job training, to help them transition to the real world.
Because there is stark reality that every family faces.
"There's a word in the autism world called falling off a cliff, which is what happens at age 21."
When the services and support that were available to school age children are suddenly gone and there's another reality.
Mason't transition to adult life brings it's own set of challenges.
His part time job at a local library gives him a sense of independence and productivity, but it isn't easy.
And for the Surhoff's and every family with a child with autism, there is that looming question about the future.
"What happenes to them when you're not around? That is many parents' biggest fear."
The Surhoffs started the non-profit Pathfinders for Autism to bring awareness to Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Around the country, there are a few residential communities for adults with autism.
The Surhoffs hope that idea catches on, to provide more choices for families.