According to new findings from the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, adults with autism face many challenges once they leave school and can no longer rely on the pediatric healthcare system.
The research is based on more than 40 interviews and 640 survey responses collected from individuals across the province.
Respondents included those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their caregivers, educators, health providers and policy makers.
'Parents ... have to quit work because they no longer have a place for their child to go each day.' - Rick Audus, co-author of study
"The challenges that families face and individuals face are huge and they're growing," says Scott Crocker, the society's executive director.
Crocker said the report is the most comprehensive study that's been done on the province's autism community.
One of the biggest concerns he says is that "there's nothing, there's no services" for older individuals with autism.
Rick Audus, an associate professor at Memorial University and one of the survey's authors, said he saw a huge impact on parents once their autistic children finished school.
"[Some of the data] shows that parents, once their kids transition out of school, actually have to quit work because they no longer have a place for their child to go each day," Audus said.
"So they have to be home with their child 168 hours in a week and, you know, it's an enormous burden on families."
Jimmy Everard, a grounds assistant with the Autism Society, agrees there aren't enough community services for adults with autism.
"I'm one of the very lucky ones out there that does have a job, that does have experience going to work and I'm very happy to be working for the Elaine Dobbin Centre in St. John's," he said.
Everard has worked with the society for about two years and said he tries to help others find job opportunities. He said he'd like to see more social programs, like cooking classes, for adults.
'I'm one of the very lucky ones out there that does have a job.' - Jimmy Everard
"My experience is that people who are lower functioning do not have as many services as higher functioning ASD clients who are out there," Everard said.
Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association president Jim Dinn says he's seen a growing need for more resources in the classroom.
"From what I hear from teachers, what I encounter on a regular basis at the primary level, if you have a large class size ... it's a challenge. And to put that all on one teacher in front of that class, it's grossly unfair."
Dinn said the findings don't just apply to students with ADS, but to students with a variety of needs.
The Autism Society released the complete findings of its survey online Wednesday.