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As Aspergers Kids Grow Into Adults

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When my Aspergers son was in high school (a special program for kids on the spectrum) he had friends who graduated before he did. Most left the comfortable cocoon that the school provided for them for years and entered a world where everything was completely different. Several of his classmates graduated and found that there was little guidance available to help them learn how to get to the next level. The lucky ones went on to colleges that offer special ed programs but for the most part these 18-year-old kids typically try one or two jobs in retail or fast food, get discouraged, and stay home. My son used to say he was so afraid that the same thing would happen to him after graduation.

Though he's musically gifted and great with computers he too has regrettably joined the ranks of his friends who stay home and play video games, or in my son's case, play music all day. The future doesn't look bright for this group in part because there are so few services available to them. Kids on the spectrum really need a bridge to independence and it isn't something parents can do alone. We always look for special ed job training programs but have been unsuccessful and so far Mass. Rehab hasn't helped much. In addition my son was refused Disability Benefits when it's clearly his disability that causes him to be unemployed. But Aspergers Syndrome isn't something that can be seen. In fact it would take someone awhile to realize my son is any different than any other kid his age.

As a result he's becoming more stagnant and his self image is very poor.
Aspergers kids need sameness and routine. Many also have sensory sensitivity. And they learn differently than most kids. But that doesn't mean they're not brilliant in other areas. I just wish there was a way to match these kids and their personal gifts to the right jobs. They're not lazy or lacking in ambition. It's a disability and there's no pill that can help them find their way.

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EmpowHER Guest

Great piece. My son is AS and 4 and I think about this all the time. We need better networks of parents that are willing to give these kids a chance employment-wise, starting from young ages. They need practice, etc. In safe scenarios. Thank you!

December 7, 2010 - 5:32am
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