Supporting children with autism heading into adulthood
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the brain’s ability to function, and it has an enormous impact on development.
For many children with autism, navigating the world into adulthood can be difficult. Adults with autism are often misunderstood by people in their community, they face challenges finding work or pursuing higher education, and they can experience loneliness or depression.
Autism is diagnosed in about 1-in-68 children in the US. It’s important to support children with autism heading into adulthood, so they can lead the best life possible.
To learn how to support
The challenges for adults with autism
The transition into adulthood can be difficult for adults with autism.
As with anyone else with a disability, it can be difficult to find meaningful work, because employers often have misconceptions about the skills they need to contribute to the workplace.
Adults with autism are also stigmatized, often because of their autism. The negative stereotypes they face sometimes prevent them from pursuing their goals.
Not all adults with autism want to live on their own or live in a group home, which is often the case. A partnership between the John A.
Hartford Foundation and the North East Autism Research & Education (NEAR) Foundation aims to help all people with autism live on their own by building supportive community networks.
Ways to support children with autism
Establishing long-term goals. Parents of children with autism may be focused on just making it through the day, but it’s important to set short- and long-term goals for the child.
“Setting short-term goals for our children can help set them up for success as they enter adulthood. Setting long-term goals is one of the most important steps in the parent/caregiver journey,” says Cynthia King, Director of Development at B4Autism.
“They must be realistic and attainable, and stretch the child’s ability.” Supporting them socially and emotionally.
Social skills such as proper communication, understanding emotions, and interacting with others are a challenge for children with autism.
Supporting Adults with Autism
It is extremely important to reach out to adults with autism living in the community.
These adults can often get lost among a world of people who don’t understand their abilities and their needs.
An autistic adult’s autism is their own experience, so don’t try to minimize or invalidate their experience.
Be compassionate and patient; these adults will need you to be a friend who gives them space to be themselves.
How to Support Adult Autism If you’re the parent of an autistic child, you may be the primary support in your child’s life.
This can be an extremely lonely experience. Support adult children who are on their own by making sure you check-in and talk with them, give them opportunities to be involved in your life and support their sense of community.
Understanding autism spectrum disorder
If you’ve spent any time around a child or teen with autism, you know how intense their emotions can be.
For children with autism, emotion comes from the body; their facial expressions and gestures are usually indicative of their mood.
The movements and behaviors that are so memorable may be very different from those of other children. Researchers are only beginning to understand autism spectrum disorder, and how it manifests in adults. Autism is difficult to study because it’s a spectrum disorder.
That means there is no “normal,” and no clear way to predict what’s in store for an individual.
Children with autism, along with people without autism, can also suffer from other mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Employing adults with autism
People with autism often struggle with social skills, and adults with autism make excellent employees, which benefits employers.
In fact, 55 percent of adults with autism find work after they’ve been diagnosed, according to Autism Speaks.
These adults not only have a good work ethic, but they also have the ability to do intricate jobs, as they are great at helping with creative and analytical thinking.
Support adult programs in your area
People with autism have great skills and abilities.
Adults with autism need special support to build a life for themselves, because the autistic brain has difficulty adapting to changes, or building long-term memories.
Adult programs include educational assistance, support groups, and life skills. The School-Age Program The School Age Program is designed for children ages six months to six years old. Children at the School Age Program are getting an early intervention to help them develop skills that will help them throughout their lives.
At the program, children will learn about their world, gain social skills, and be exposed to new experiences. The program begins in August and runs through July.
The Life Skills Program The Life Skills Program is for children ages eight to 18.
When considering autism and the support it may require, consider who you are as a community and what you are providing to our children and families.
Are you helping children learn social skills? Are you helping children with mental health challenges navigate their communities? Are you supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism? What impact does your autism support have on the broader community?