Monday, August 8, 2011

Are You All Alone with Adult Autism?

This morning, a friend directed my attention to a short video on the PBS site which features two families with adults on the autism spectrum. The families were very similar. Both were white and middle class (one family looked to be wealthier than the other, but neither seemed rich or poor). Both families consisted of a mother and father in their later years (retirement age) with an autistic son in his twenties. Both young men were verbal and responsive, but both were significantly challenged with what appeared, at least on the surface, to be intellectual and cognitive challenges as well as an overwhelming need for sameness and routine. In both cases, the end of school services had signaled the end of therapies, and the end of many opportunities. One young man, however, spent the day in a sheltered workshop; the other worked in a grocery store with a full time job coach. Each seemed very comfortable with his work setting. In other words, both had significant, daylong, supported situations in which they were gainfully employed outside of the home. And in both cases the supported situation appeared to be funded by some kind of federal or state program (they were not private settings). The parents' worry, therefore, was not so much "how can we cope with this situation." The worry was "what happens when we die?"

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