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

autismMSP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake to create daytime heated shelter for vulnerable during COVID-19

As of Thursday, April 2, Boitanio Park shelter will be tarped, heated until temperatures warm up

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

Flood repairs result in new COVID-19 respiratory unit at Cariboo Memorial Hospital

Unit will be used for suspect and confirmed cases of COVID-19 required to be admitted

BC Wildfire Service makes changes in response to COVID-19

Crews are stationed at Puntzi fire station in the Chilcotin

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

Most Read