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

Tour recognizes Prince Rupert’s rich labour history

Epic story of the Battle of Kelly’s Cut put Rupert on the labour radar

Rio Tinto responds to U.S. aluminum import tariffs

The tariffs were imposed by President Donald Trump Aug. 6

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Oily rain runoff down the drain causes concern for Prince Rupert residents

Immediate action taken to alleviate any concerns, road paving contractor said.

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Most Read