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Lisa Jo Rudy

Is Your Child Nearly 18 or 22? Here Are Tips to Help You Prepare

By June 20, 2013

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For reasons that continue to escape me, autism is typically described as a disorder of childhood. Well, sure, autism is usually diagnosed in the first few years of life. But it's not like it just - poof! - disappears with the onset of puberty. In fact, most people who are diagnosed with autism will be autistic throughout their lives.

When I first started writing about autism, there was an explosion of diagnoses of very young children. Everyone I knew seemed to know or have a toddler or elementary school student on the spectrum. That was ... more years ago than I care to admit.

Today, those adorable toddlers and primary schoolers are teenagers. Many are already well into adolescence or young adulthood. And those young people are joining an ever-growing pool of adults who are newly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Is your son or daughter with autism nearing his or her 18th birthday - or looking at high school graduation?  What plans do you have in place as he or she steps over the threshold of adulthood?

Share your hopes, fears, and plans - and read up on some of the important steps you'll need to take as your child nears and reaches maturity.


Photo Credit: Sarah Murphy

June 24, 2013 at 11:42 am
(1) Twyla says:

Why do the reasons continue to escape you?

I think Anne Dachel explained it well, in a comment she left on a different article, but which she probably meant to post here.

“The reason that autism is constantly talked about as a childhood disorder is because, as experts tell us, 80 percent of Americans with autism are under the age of 18. The current rate of one in 50 is based on studies of kids under the age of 18. No one has ever found a comparable rate among adults, especially adults with severe autism. That is a scary thought. What will the future be like when a million children with autism become adults in the next twenty years, dependent on the taxpayers for their support and care?

“Officials have long pretended that autism is an endemic genetic disorder and that theres been no real increase, just better diagnosing, greater awareness and a broader definition. If that were true, thered be no problem. Autistic young adults would go where autistic adults have always gone. The trouble is, no one can show us where that is.”

“Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism”

Never-the-less, thanks for posting tips on handling the transition to adulthood. But keep in mind, not every adult with autism will be capable of “gainful or at least regular employment”. But maybe by employment you mean something to do? I think of employment as a paid job, but perhaps to you that would be “gainful employment”, but “regular employment” could include unpaid day programs?

On the other hand, not every adult with autism will need his/her parents to have the power to manage his/her affairs – some will competently move into adulthood. But that’s a good reminder to those whose kids do need continuing help/oversight.

July 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm
(2) autism says:

Hi, Twyla! I do, of course, know that the majority of people with autism are under 18 — my surprise is over the number of articles and TV clips I see in which parents are, apparently, taken by surprise when they realize that their child with autism will no longer receive educational services when they turn 22.

Anyway – it’s nice to hear from you, and of course I do appreciate your comments. You’re quite right about the incredibly broad range of people living with autism — and while I don’t for a minute believe that ALL adults with autism can hold down a typical job, I do believe that there are positive ways for everyone to spend their days. I look forward to exploring some of the possibilities in coming months!


June 24, 2013 at 6:51 pm
(3) anita says:

I have a just-turned-eighteen autistic daughter and I can say that the progress is as slow as it was ten years ago. Luckily for all of us she is a brilliant artist. However, her speech is still a problem. The main issue is that she is very physically and emotionally developed which may cause problems soon. So far we are monitoring her closely and all but there is a limit. Can somone help me with guidelines as to how to manage her sexuality?

June 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm
(4) Brian Bigelow says:

Is there any housing for autistic adults in the sacramento ca area

June 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm
(5) joegouldIII says:

…Or , housing in San Jose , CA – for me , Joe Gould III ADULT AS MISERABLE FAILURE (well it worked for Bush & Obama ) !

October 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm
(6) rose says:

My husband is very close to retiring & we are looking into residential housing or a community for an Asperger Syndrome adult, 21 yr. of age. Where are these communities? We are looking for an apartment like housing, jobs, transportation, etc. Are they out there??? Thank you for any feedback.

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