For the past four years, I worked for 801 East Shelter/Transitional Rehabilitation Program in many roles and completed more than 500 intake interviews/screenings. I observed a majority of those individuals had co-occurring disabilities, i.e., substance abuse and mental health issues. Having interned for Madison House Autism Foundation, I have looked back to those intake sessions and think differently about autism and homelessness:
1. Front-line emergency shelter staff may misconstrue autism as a mental illness.
One-third of the total homeless population is believed to have untreated serious mental health challenges (Office of Public and Research Affairs, 2016). According to the 2015 Housing and Urban Development survey 24% (104,083) of the total 436,921 adult homeless population were reported to have severe mental illness. Emergency shelters and transitional housing are designed to provide temporary harbor for people experiencing homelessness. Afterwards, the goal is to transfer them into permanent housing or rapid re-housing settings. …
Often, the results are less than optimal support, accommodations, and responses because of the lack of staff training about autism and their misappropriation of diagnosis. […]
Article by: Zelalem Tiruneh Rejie