Iris Gray was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome around her 35th birthday. Anna James/VICTORIA NEWS

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

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

A concept drawing released by the District of Sicamous shows plans for the replacement of the recently demolished Beach Park washroom facilities. (District of Sicamous image)
Province gets behind new washroom, concession for Sicamous Beach Park

New facility will be sloped, covered with grass, for public seating

A 2018 geotechnical review identified portions of Lakeshore Road between 10th and 20th Avenue at medium to high risk of catastrophic failure. (File photo)
Engineering work awarded in ongoing effort to stabilize busy Salmon Arm road

City of Salmon Arm awards preliminary design engineering for section of Lakeshore Road

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Update: Fire at North Okanagan-Shuswap cannabis grow operation not suspicious

Ranchero-Deep Creek firefighters find two structures ablaze on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
And Then There Were None

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

A webinar on dealing with dementia will be held Wednesday, March 10, 2021 (Submitted)
Webinar on dementia scheduled for March 10

Okanagan residents invited to event on legal issues surrounding dementia

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

Migrant farm workers transplant jalapeno sprouts from trucks into the tilted soil at a farm. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)
‘They’re afraid’: Coalition sounds alarm over COVID vaccines for B.C.’s migrant workers

Though health ministry says anyone can get vaccinated, critics say barriers are keeping migrants from their dose

Most Read