As far back as the late 80's some states were closing their last institutions for people with developmental disabilities such as Autism. Everyone involved had to learn some new tricks for supporting people with disabilities in the world. It was at times uncomfortable for service systems, universities, and even families to learn how to do what needed to be done. Even now we are still learning.
At times it feels like we as parents have come so far. At the same time it can feel like nothing has changed. Some parents see placement in institutions or group homes as an answer to their prayers. Other parents see it as a failure of the system that so much of our tax dollars go to. Some people see supporting a single person as a waste when that same amount of money can be used to support three people.
It is important when looking at these issues to keep in mind the vision you have for your child. It is also important to keep a child with Autism's wishes and needs in mind as well. Then finding partners in the process becomes the next step. Some people who have vast knowledge about systems for people with Autism are proposing unique solutions to these issues.
The theory is that in the past and even now the system to support people with disabilities has been designed with the mind set of continuous inputs. Those inputs may be money, supports, and unfortunately endless waiting lists for those things. The change would be a system designed to produce outputs. The outputs would be social and economic resources for the person with Autism.
This is a huge mind shift for parents and professionals. Parents are not accredited to thinking and believing their child has and needs these types of resources. Professionals are heavily invested in a system where they provide the resources. So how can we move in this direction?
The first step is to become aware. Although supports will always be needed on some level, parents can contribute by consistently looking and working towards a system that values human relations and economic self-adequacy. The levels might be different between one child with Autism and the next. The supports will be different. Starting to expect the social resources and economic resources is the start.