People who are diagnosed with autism sometimes find it difficult to work because of the symptoms associated with the disorder. In fact, many people with autism are completely unable to hold a job because of their inability to communicate or interact with other people. Getting disability benefits for autism can be a struggle for people who are not sure how to file the paperwork or document their case or the case of a loved one. Many people with autism need some extra help, but finding the right resources is integral to the success of the claim, and an experienced attorney can help people who are thinking about applying to find the information that they need.
What is Autism?
Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects primarily social interactions, interests, and communication. It’s considered to be a neurological-developmental disorder, and the severity of the symptoms has a wide range. Some people with autism are very gifted in certain areas, such as music, art, and many academic pursuits, but other people with autism have the developmental problems associated with autism without any special talents. Finally, there are some people with autism who also learn differently and can even lag behind peers in their intellectual capacity.
There are a few subsets of autism that used to be diagnosed separately and are now on the autism spectrum. For instance, Asperger’s syndrome is now listed as an autism spectrum disorder, and this included people who are often very high-functioning in certain pursuits even though they still struggle with social interactions and often have repetitive behaviors that are common of people with autism. Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified used to be diagnosed separately, but now it also is diagnosed as an autism spectrum disorder.
It’s believed that people are born with autism, but the signs of autism aren’t usually noticed until at least 18 months of age, and many times, people go much longer before they are diagnosed. Additionally, there aren’t any physical differences that someone with autism will show, so parents usually notice it when the child is old enough to have missed milestones.
Although autism affects people in all socioeconomic and ethnic groups, autism is about four times more likely to affect boys than girls. It’s also more common for people with autism to have a parent who has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Symptoms of Autism
There are several symptoms of autism, but the exact symptoms can vary from person to person, depending on the type and severity of autism. Difficulty communicating and understanding nonverbal cues are some of the most common symptoms, and the way that they manifest will somewhat depend on the age. For instance, one of the first signs that many parents notice is that their child doesn’t hold eye contact.
Repetitive movements is another common symptom although many people with autism don’t necessarily engage in repetitive movements. The severity of the movements can vary greatly, as well. Some people with autism might rock back and forth, and other people might flap their arms and hands, flick their fingers, jump, twirl, bang their heads, or engage in more complex body movements.
Other people with autism might have obsessive interests. For instance, some high-functioning autistic people become obsessed with an academic pursuit, or they’ll have a particular gift for a sport or musical instrument. In other people, they might be obsessed with safety, hygiene, or another topic.
Many people with autism might also insist on routine, becoming very upset if it varies. For instance, some people with autism might insist on having the same foods for meals or travel the same way to or from work or school. If their routine is disrupted, they will likely become very upset. Other people with autism are sensitive to textures, often making them picky eaters.
Treatment for Autism
There is no drug that will make symptoms of autism subside, and many high-functioning autistic people don’t even feel that it’s a disability, but working with other people can be a challenge for many people with the disorder.
Most often, behavior treatments are the most effective in helping people with autism integrate better into social environments. The exact types of behavior training will vary depending on the severity of the autistic symptoms and the exact type of autism.
While there isn’t any medication for autism, there are medications for some disorders that often co-occur with autism. For instance, a person with autism might also have epilepsy or sleep disturbances, and these can be treated with medication.
In general, the treatment for autism often starts young as long as the disorder is diagnosed young. Some of the behavioral treatments for autism include behavioral management therapy, and some people might also receive cognitive behavioral therapy. Early intervention is considered to be key, and some children might also receive extra help at school. Some people will also take speech lessons if they are having difficulties learning how to talk.
Disability Benefits for Autism
Adults with autism who are unable to work because of their disability can apply for both Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, assuming that they don’t have enough money to pay for basic necessities.
SSI benefits are available to individuals who have never worked, provided that they are in the low-income category, but SSDI benefits are only available to people who have had enough working hours in which they paid into Social Security.
Additionally, for an adult to win social security disability benefits, they must have medical evidence that shows that they have an inability that is profound enough that they are unable to interact with others, both in reciprocating and responding in social interactions. For instance, both verbal and nonverbal communication must be sufficiently impaired. They must also demonstrate that they have a history of a very narrow set of interests.
If a person is denied benefits, they may also apply for a medical-vocational allowance. In this process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look into whether or not there is work available that the person with autism can reasonably be expected to learn how to do. If there isn’t a vocation that the person with autism could learn, they they might be eligible for benefits.
When applying, people need to gather as much medical evidence as they can. They can reach out to medical providers, but they should also gather evidence and testimonies from teachers, friends, family, and caregivers.
Having financial records, such as bank account statements, on hand to further substantiate the need for benefits is also important. Applicants will also have to gather records of any other financial help that they or the person whom they are applying for receive to help care for their living expenses.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal an existing denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Autism, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.