Healthy Living

Autism in Adults

A promising future is more than possible.

Autism in Adults

Living with autism is difficult, but you can overcome your obstacles.

Key Takeaways

  • Parents of an autistic child should start transition planning early.
  • Since one of the symptoms of autism is a lack of social and communication skills, it can be hard for individuals with ASD to sustain a challenging employment
  • Many autistic adults are able to work successfully in mainstream jobs if they begin focusing on this goal early on.

The vast majority of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will eventually grow up to be adults with ASD. So, what happens when someone with ASD or Asperger’s syndrome grows up, leaves school, and makes a transition to adult life? You will have to consider registering for college, applying to jobs, and even a new living situation, which may not be as easy if your child has ASD.

Start Transition Planning Early

Parents of an autistic child should start transition planning early. In fact, transition planning should ideally begin when a child is very young because parents (and school) lay the foundation for skills necessary to live in the adult world. For example, some daily living skills, like personal hygiene and housekeeping, can be taught in early childhood. Moreover, complex skills can be broken into small pieces and gradually expanded in complexity as the child gets older.

Experts suggest that during the transition process, children should be urged and encouraged to think about their preferences and interests, with an eye toward future employment. Some symptoms of ASD include obsessive behaviors and obsessive interests. For some children, these obsessions can lead to a successful education and career, if they have proper direction.

High School and College

Since public education is an entitlement for children from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, schools are required to adopt changes in order to help students to assimilate, learn, and succeed. Children with ASD and Asperger’s are required the same rights. Many schools will provide organizational support, individual tutoring, help with social skills, and other reasonable accommodations, like extended time on tests and taking tests in a room free of disturbances.

However, the situation usually changes after high school. Higher education is a privilege; it is not required for colleges to provide accommodations and individual tutoring. Unlike high schools, colleges expect and usually require students with ASD to ask for what they need and want. This can be a problem for those with ASD because they usually struggle with communication and social skills. Some may not even want to disclose their disability.

In order to prepare a child with ASD for college, parents should gradually give their child more responsibility. This includes not rescuing the child when he or she misses due dates and homework, or if the child forgets materials he or she needs for school at home. Students with ASD need to recognize their own weaknesses because they will have to account for them in the unstructured world when it's time for college.

Employment and Autism

Many autistic adults are able to work successfully in mainstream jobs, and those individuals usually have high-functioning ASD or Asperger’s syndrome. Even then, many of them will work below their actual level of qualifications, skills, and potential. This is because the adult world doesn’t cater to the needs of the employee in most cases. Without intensive support, adults with ASD often feel disconnected and lost, which can make it difficult for them to do their job.

Since one of the symptoms of autism is a lack of social and communication skills, it can be hard for individuals with ASD to sustain a challenging employment. A lack of social prowess can greatly limit every aspect of work, including advancement opportunities and salary. This is the reason why working on communication and social skills should be a priority for people with ASD.

Some people diagnosed with ASD are employed in sheltered workshops, where they work under the supervision of managers trained in working with people with disabilities. A supportive environment at home, school, and later in job training and at work, can benefit autistic people greatly. This way, they can continue to learn and develop their skills throughout their lives.

However, for some people, autism can have a positive effect on their career. Autistic individuals have the ability to focus intensely on a specific subject or interest, which can be extremely helpful in the right workplace.  Many famous business people, inventors, and actors have autism and have succeeded far beyond anyone's expectations.