Iris Gray was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome around her 35th birthday. Anna James/VICTORIA NEWS

Fight for autism diagnosis arduous for adults in B.C.

Public funding scarcely available for people over 19 with the disorder

From age six, people with autism in B.C. experience a sharp decline in government support until age 19, and Autism BC is wanting to see this changed.

Diagnosing adult autism costs between $2,000 and $4,000 and is not covered by B.C.’s Medical Services Plan.

Iris Gray was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome around her 35th birthday. She was relieved.

She suspected she sat somewhere on the autism spectrum but was told, for many reasons, that it just wasn’t possible. Gray was too intelligent. She was a girl. And by 19, she was too old.

“Help diminishes after age six, and even more after school is over. Some universities, like our own University of Victoria, have services for autistic people, but for those who aren’t able to go to university, help just ends,” she said.

“Children show the most benefit from autism treatment and the funding and policy aligns with this,” confirmed Andrew Pinfold, director of operations for Autism BC.

Under the current system, children under six can receive $22,000 a year toward therapy. Government funding for those over six is capped at $6,000.

Funding after age 6 is diverted to the school district who receives $18,850 for every student with autism, stated the B.C. Ministry of Health website.

A representative from the B.C. government advised that funding for adults is available through Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

The current system is not of much help to Gray, who has independently built networks in the absence of government support.

“The best thing I ever did for my autism was actually done before I knew I was autistic,” she said. “I went to the Bridges for Women Society back in the early 1990s, where I learned life skills and communication skills. I belong to a few autism peer-support groups on Facebook and I now organize an in-person, peer-support group of my own in Victoria.”

She currently works full-time as a transcriber, using her fastidious nature – commonly associated with Asperger’s – to her advantage.

Meanwhile, Pinfold remains hopeful about the future for adults with autism.

“We are certainly talking to government about considering extending therapy to align with other programs, but it’s early days,” he said. “As children age out of care, they can access Community Living BC, job training, community.”

That is, if they were already diagnosed as a child, he added. “The reality is, once you turn 19, there’s no money for therapy. Then you’re kind of on your own for treatment.”

For those without funding, Gray suggests sourcing a specialist that charges less.

“There’s also the possibility of accepting a self-diagnosis as valid,” she said.

anna.james@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Haida Manga artist to speak at North Island College

Award-winning visual artist and author Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas will speak at North… Continue reading

UPDATE: Courtenay home a ‘write-off’ after Sunday afternoon fire

Two occupants of the home and one of a neighbouring house were treated for minor smoke inhalation

L’Arche Comox Valley looking for volunteers to document seniors’ life stories

The Sharing Side by Side program is starting back up in April

MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard welcomes new playground for Airport Elementary School in Comox

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard says students at Airport Elementary School are getting… Continue reading

Island AeroBarrier donates building sealing services to Habitat for Humanity

The new Courtenay-based business sealed two units at the Lake Trail Road build

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients could drop by 31%: study

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as is

Man enters unlocked B.C. home with knife, sexually assaults 22-year-old

Investigation ongoing after woman sexually assaulted in Greater Victoria early Sunday morning

Trudeau fills vacancy in cabinet with B.C. MP Joyce Murray

Murray, 64, was elected in 2008 and served previously as a minister in B.C.’s provincial government

Gunman kills 3 on Dutch tram; mayor says terror likely

Utrecht police release photo of 37-year-old man born in Turkey who is ‘associated with the incident’

Facebook announces changes to political advertising to meet new federal rules

Bill C-76 bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns

Travel expected to be slowed by fallout from fire at Toronto’s Pearson airport

All U.S.-bound flights from Terminal 1 were cancelled Sunday night after the fire broke out near a security checkpoint

Leivo nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Stars 3-2

Schaller scores first 2 goals of season for Vancouver

Most Read