Taking to the Streets
Of course, before the diagnostic criteria were broadened, most were not identified as autistic and were looked upon as part of the general population. Others were rarely or never seen in public because they were kept hidden away at home by their families or were sent to institutions.
As reported by Hard Won Wisdom, it appears that at least one older autistic person is taking part in the ADAPT protests in Atlanta, Georgia, which began on Sunday, challenging the state's failure to close down institutions and to provide community services and supports instead. A protester who calls herself "Spitfire" and who was thought to be autistic as a girl in the 1950s talked about how ADAPT had saved her from a nursing home. She described her participation in numerous protest actions since then.
In Columbus, Ohio, members of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network also held a protest this past Sunday, holding signs and handing out leaflets at an Autism Speaks walk to inform the participants about Autism Speaks' hateful advertising, exclusion of self-advocates from leadership positions, eugenic aims, and minimal services for families. You can find articles about the protest on the ASAN Central Ohio blog and also on the ASAN Southwest Ohio blog. And here's a video of the protest:
I expect that in the near future, as we see more autistic people coming out of the closet and onto the streets to demand equal rights, there won't be so many questions about where the older autistics are.