Nfld. & Labrador·Critical Condition

Autism Society says adults living with disorder falling through the cracks

The CEO of the Autism Society of NL is calling on government to repeal a policy that denies care to individual's with an IQ over 70.

Scott Crocker says IQ 70 policy discriminating against those needing help

Autism Society of NL CEO Scott Crocker says the the government needs to do more for adults living with autism. (CBC News)

The CEO of the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is calling on the provincial government to repeal a policy that denies care to individuals with an IQ of more than 70.

"I call it the most obvious, most blatant case of discrimination that I can talk about when I mention ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)," said Scott Crocker, in an interview with CBC Radio's On the Go Wednesday.

He was responding to an impassioned plea from a mother with a 33-year-old son living with autism who wrote in a CBC NL column that she's had no luck getting help for him.

Lorilee Snook's son, pictured here as a baby, was diagnosed with autism as an adult. (Submitted)

Lorilee Snook (a pseudonym) said her son's IQ was too high to qualify him for extra support, even though he clearly had low emotional intelligence and strong behavioural problems.

"I had students with autism over the years, and some of them very very bright, in university passing courses way better than I ever would," said Crocker.

Left in limbo

However, those students were unable to look after themselves or be independent in an apartment of their own, Crocker said, and with the IQ 70 rule still in place, there are essentially no services available for adults living on the autism spectrum.

"The people left in limbo are the young adults, now moving into middle age, and in some cases older," said Crocker. "It's not unusual to hear this sort of a story, as sad as it is."

The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

In 2015, he said all three parties promised to eliminate IQ 70, but there's been no progress on that front.

"We've been harping on this for years and the three parties committed to removing IQ 70 just before the last election and here we are three years later and there's no difference," said Crocker.

Adults with autism left behind

Crocker said that when adults who are currently living with autism were children, the province did not have the proper tools in place to diagnose their illness, which means that many of them have fallen through the cracks.

"Some may be surviving on their own, that's rare, but there's are a lot that are struggling in the community," said Crocker.

"They end up bouncing around from place to place, shelter to shelter."

(CBC)

Snook's son was one of those people, spending time in shelters and the Waterford hospital. 

"Moms and dads are getting older, in many cases now they're into their 70s, and the biggest issue [they have] is what's gonna happen to my son or daughter when we are no longer able to care for them," said Crocker.

Now, he's asking others to speak out like Snook did and ask the government to take action.

"I would encourage any family that has children with ASD, or adults with ASD, to never end in terms of contacting MHAs and others in the community and stressing how important a need it is."

Join the CBC NL Critical Condition public forum, hosted by Ramona Dearing and Anthony Germain, on May 31 at Memorial University's Bruneau Centre, from 6:30 - 8 p.m. (Please arrive at 6 p.m.)

With files from On The Go