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The homeless autism

A few years ago I wondered where adult autistic people were? I even said that they must have some kind of Peter Pan Syndrome! In other words, that after adolescence they would disappear to Neverland. But in the end they didn't. And if it's true that we hear more and more about adults being diagnosed or being evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is also true that it is still necessary to search with some insistence where adult autistic people are. And now that we know they are not in Neverland, we need to know where they are!


Although we know that there are more and more autistic people applying to University, it is also true that few of them ask for a referral to Inclusive Education in this new teaching and learning space. And so, we still do not know the true reality of autistic university students. And even with my attempt to collect data online about this situation, still only thirty-five autistic university students responded.


We can also look into the labour market. And even more in these days when so much is said about Neurodiversity, it would make sense to think that Portuguese companies would be hiring autistic workers, right? But this is not true. And unfortunately and despite the numerous programmes that have tried to promote the integration and the signing of work contracts with autistic people, the expression of this reality is still scarce.


But then, where are the adult autistic people? Are they in care homes? In the 21st century, is such an atrocity possible? What is certain is that many parents wonder what to do when they are no longer alive, considering the reality of their children at the moment. Will they be admitted to psychiatric hospitals? This does not seem to be the case, since hospital admissions are less and less a possibility as a clinical answer. Or even because there are no hospital beds for that purpose! Are they in prisons? It is a possibility, right? And even if many people say that autistic people are not violent, which is a fact, or that they are very honest, which is also true to some extent. What is certain is that autistic people, just like any other person, have the propensity for a certain set of behaviours punished by the penal code. And there's been increasing talk that autistic people, and that in part because of some of their behavioral characteristics, may be more likely to be involved in situations and occurrences that might justify that punishment. They can always be at home with their parents or relatives, that's a fact! And according to what we read in the scientific literature and from data collection in other countries, it appears that between 60% and 80% of adult autistic people are living with their families.


What if we think that there may be a set of adult autistic people who are homeless? That's right, Homeless, just like in the picture that accompanies this text? Shocked? I'm sure! But don't be shocked for long, because we need to roll up our sleeves and do some things, namely to try and understand the reality of the situation. And to do so, it is necessary to go to the people who live as homeless people and try to assess them and identify these characteristics of the Autism Spectrum. Even because, once again, some results of work carried out in other countries have shown that this reality of adult autistic people living as homeless is considerable, and that the true extent of the situation has not yet been understood.


I now realise that I was somewhat right when I was talking about Neverland. Except that this reality is a "neverland" that is a little different, and at the same time similar. It is a land where autistic people can easily fall into and settle in. That is, if you think that autistic people in general spend a good part of their lives being or feeling like outcasts. When they become homeless they continue to be once again ignored by Society.


Now that you understand a little more, what do you intend to do?


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