Across the United States, two million families are struggling to create supports for their loved ones with an intellectual disability and mental illness (Easter Seals, 2008). This same trend is being seen in the State of Maine where there are an increasing number of youth diagnosed on the Autism spectrum with a co-morbid mental health disorder. Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services reports that Maine Care recipients with Autism and related disorders in 2009, numbered 4156 (Richardson, 2011), with those entering adulthood in the fastest growing group. As we look to the future, there are over 2500 individuals between the ages of 6-17 years currently diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (Richardson, 2011). Nationwide, we know that 80% of those with a developmental disability between the ages 19-30 live with their parents, as few other choices exist outside institutionalization. Meanwhile, nationwide, 500,000 children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are expected to reach adulthood in the next 15 years (Diament, 2010), 1 in 5 families with an adult child with developmental disabilities state that someone had to quit their jobs to provide care, and 80% of caregivers of adult children with developmental disabilities have put their retirement savings in jeopardy (Diament, 2011). Additionally, the statistics highlight many individuals with a developmental disorder (such as Autism) also have a co-morbid mental health diagnosis. Mental health problems faced by this population include anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders (Mueller & Prout, 2009).
Raymond, Laurie and Loukas, Kathryn M., "Creating Collaborative Lifelong Solutions: Person, Family, Professionals, and Community" (2012). Occupational Therapy Faculty Publications. 5.