Autism Housing Pathways (AHP) President Catherine Boyle has completed an analysis of publicly available special education data to derive an approximation of the current and future population of young adults with autism in Massachusetts. The annual “headcount” data collected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act gives a breakdown by age of young people receiving special education on the basis of an autism diagnosis. The numbers showed remarkably consistent rates of growth, making it possible to use trend lines to estimate future numbers of young adults with autism. The analysis indicates that in 2025 the number of 12-37 year olds with autism in Massachusetts may be about 28,413, of whom about 17,428 would be 18-37 years old.
A 2011-2012 housing survey done by AHP indicated that about 12%-13% of individuals with autism are likely to be prioritized for full time residential supports by the Department of Developmental Services at age 22. An additional 3% are likely to have all the skills they need for independent living. The remaining 84%-85%, who will need affordable supported housing, appeared to be divided almost evenly between those who are likely to meet criteria for MassHealth’s Adult Family Care/Adult Foster Care (AFC) program, and those who are not. This last group would still need support to handle tasks such as finances, medication, and household chores. Applying these findings to the new analysis would indicate about 14,000-15,000 individuals in the 2025 cohort of 18-37 year olds are likely to need affordable supported housing as adults. Again, about half would likely meet criteria for AFC, while the other half would probably need assistance with key functional living skills.