Resources scarce for families with adults on the Autism spectrum

Autism puzzle piece at SVH Services in Roanoke (Dan Palm/WSET)

ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) - The mother of 18-year-old Daniel Flint, who was arrested after shooting a gun in his neighborhood Thursday, says her son is on the autism spectrum.

She says she tried to get her son help, but that it was hard on her family.

Healthcare officials say 1 in 68 are on the autism spectrum, and these children are growing up with care only until they're 22.

SVH Services, or Saint Vincent's Home is a part of the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center, and they say isn't a lot of help available for those who don't have a lot of money.

The CEO of SVH Services, Angie Leonard, says there are programs for adults with autism, but they are costly unless a family has the funds or state funding. Leonard says there is a waiver to help people get the help they need, but 12,000 are on the waiting list for that aid.

Leonard says Virginia is among ten states in the country that provide the least amount of funding for those with disabilities.

This means many adults in the area in need of services, care, and help. "When we saw the need these folks were growing up, they didn't have services and it became the heart’s desire of our board to serve throughout their lifespan," Leonard says.

SVH Services offers their services for free for those who qualify, and fundraise all year to keep their programs running. Their day programs for autistic adults are at capacity, with just twenty people.

Ronald Neil is just one parent who says they are concerned about what will happen to their autistic child as they grow up. "I'm concerned as I get older and don't have the ability to take care of him, what's going to happen to him? I don't want him in a home somewhere, I want him in a loving place where he can actually thrive," says Neil about his 19-year-old son, Daniel.

Neil says his family has not been able to get any funding or help from the state for Daniel's care. He says one day he hopes Daniel will be granted the waiver so he can be guaranteed more quality care.

He says he wants the state as a whole to realize how big of an issue this is and allocate more funding for people like Daniel.

To learn more about the services SVH offers adults, click here.

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