One in 68 children in the United States is diagnosed with some form of autism spectrum disorder. What happens when they turn 21? Under federal law, children with disabilities including autism must leave school when then turn 21. There’s no federal or state system that takes over. All of the services come to an abrupt halt. Parents of autistic children, who are now legally adults, compare the drop of services to falling off a cliff.
NBC’s Kate Snow has been following one young man, Eric, and his caregiving mother Mary, for three years. Now with school over, Eric spends most of his time at home with his mother. Mary worries about her son (he’s beginning to lose some of his language skills) and the 500,000 people who are expected to “age out of the system” over the next 10 years. Snow’s report will air on Dateline NBC on Sunday, April 12 at 7pm.