Autistic adults are valuable members of their communities who face many challenges on a daily basis. Topics of great concern include education, living arrangements, careers, and community involvement.
Many adults with autism thrive in their fields of interest. Vocational training and college courses can help the individual develop new skills while working with his strengths. While the subject may be highly motivational, many higher education programs fall short of meeting the needs of people on the autism spectrum.
Contacting the learning institution about the student's condition is ideal. An accommodation letter to the university or college is a great approach. This sample letter is a nice model to use. The letter includes details about the classroom setting, the individual's possible behaviors, and accommodations that yield the best results.
Life Skills and Living Accommodations
Everyday tasks that many people take for granted can be extremely challenging for individuals with autism. Occupational therapy for autism and physical therapy may progress well into adulthood. The ability to develop life skills is an important aspect of determining the best living arrangements.
Living accommodations vary according to the individual's specific needs. Some are quite capable of living alone while others may require constant supervision. Group homes, family dwellings and institutions are typical options for adults with autism. The spectrum is wide and living arrangements are made on an individual basis.
ABC News created a great feature that beautifully answers the question, "What living arrangements are realistic options for adults with autism spectrum disorders?"
The National Institute of Mental Health has created a detailed list of options individuals with autism and their families may consider. You'll find them near the bottom of a very long yet informative article.
America's Literacy Directory
America's Literacy Directory offers a searchable database for individuals who need to earn a General Education Diploma (GED) as well as programs for employment including skill assessment and work-based skills certification.
Autistic adults are terrific candidates for countless careers. The first step is to determine which careers for people with autism piques the individual's interests. Some employers are more than willing to hire people on the spectrum. It is important that employers make the proper accommodations for employees who have pervasive developmental disorders.
Job Accommodation Network
Job Accommodation Network is a project developed by the Office of Disabilities Employment Policy from the United States Department of Labor. This organization includes resources for adults with autism as well as their employers.
JAN includes SOAR, the Searchable Online Accommodation Resource. This feature provides a list of frequently requested products for individuals with cognitive and neurological impairments.
Community Services for Autistic Adults
- Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children provides excellent support and guidance for adults on the spectrum including:
- Skill assessment
- Job coaches
- Education for neurotypical coworkers
- Workplace safety
- Public transportation skill development
More information is available on the CSAAC website.
The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center is a prime example of an organization dedicated to improving lives of people affected by autism spectrum disorders. Among the many services provided by the SARRC are programs for autistic adults. Services include:
- Vocational and Life Skills Training
- Community Works is a community-based vocational training program.
- Vocational Life Skills Academy provides instruction and guidance for determining fields of interest. The program also helps teenagers and young adults develop work-related skills.
- Opus West Vocational and Life Skills Academy offers skill development programs for individuals 13 years and older with an emphasis on community involvement.
SARRC is a wonderful model of the ideal organization dedicated to helping families affected by autism spectrum disorders, including autistic adults.
Autism Source is a directory provided by the Autism Society of America. Simply enter information into the site's Autism Source Search Page to find local services and programs for autistic adults.
Autistic Adults and Empathy
Adults diagnosed on the autism spectrum offer the most valuable information about pervasive developmental disorders. Those who are able to communicate their experiences provide a glimpse into the conditions, often negating many stereotypes associated with autism. Among the most important is empathy. While some assert that individuals on the spectrum lack empathy, this is merely an illusion. Their outward responses do not always represent their thoughts, beliefs and emotions.