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.

Just Posted

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

UFV health fair focuses on taking back health

Health sciences program invites Dr. Cathy van Ingen to speak

Chilliwack’s Spirit Abreast team searching for new paddlers

As dragon boat season approaches, breast-cancer-focused team holds annual meet and greet

Free parking not in the cards for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chair says board may look at ways to make parking easier, but not free

B.C. Lion legend Angus Reid brings o-line expertise to Chilliwack

The longtime Canadian Football League center will run a camp in Chilliwack March 31.

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles in the driver’s seat and Ethan Martini takes a seat

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

New Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms in Canada

Measures are intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes

Murder charges upgraded for B.C. man accused of killing wife and daughters

Crown approved new information on Jacob Forman’s file

5 to start your day

Some puppies need naming, a police-involved death in South Surrey and more

Janet Austin announced as B.C.’s new lieutenant governor

Austin has served as YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO since 2003

Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody on Gadhafi claims

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing

Hockey pioneer Kwong dies at 94

Vernon’s Larry Kwong was the first player to break NHL colour barrier in 1948

Most Read