autistic adults
Boy wearing autism infinity rainbow symbol. (Photo credit: Dreamstime)

Bruce Petherick was first diagnosed with autism as an adult. At the time, he was covered under his wife’s health insurance, so he didn’t have to pay thousands of dollars in autism diagnostic costs out of pocket.

But now, the couple doesn’t have health insurance and he cannot afford psychiatric care. 

Autistic people like Petherick are cut off from public support when they hit 21, a phenomenon known as “falling off the cliff” that is experienced across the country.

“When you look at funding models across the world, it's so super concentrated on the zero-to-five age group,” said Petherick, who is an advocate for Autism Canada, an advocacy organization. “Up to 10 [years old] it gets less and then teenagers it gets less…  Then [with] adults, it… almost totally disappears.”

For Petherick, his autism diagnosis was life-changing. The former professional musician who toured for 40 years says it helped shed light on some of the issues he struggled with. 

“When I got the diagnosis, I realized how important it was for me to make sense of what had gone on in the past,” he said. 

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Hadassah Alencar is a bilingual journalist based near Montreal. She recently completed the journalism program at Concordia University, where she worked as a teaching assistant and became editor-in-chief...