Recently my husband and I attended a viewing of “Keep the Change,” a film featuring actually autistic adult actors. After the credits several adults formed a panel, opening the floor to discussion of adults on the Autism Spectrum. One of the panelists, Nancy Popkin, the mother of a son with autism, advocate and employee of the Autism Society of NC, brought up a fact we all need to keep front and center. Well over a decade ago, the rate of those diagnosed with autism started to sky rocket. In fact, when I drafted my book, “Asperger’s in Pink,” we had to edit the final manuscript’s diagnostic ratio to fit the quickly changing landscape.
What does this all mean?
It means we are entering a cycle where many diagnosed with autism as children are blooming into adulthood. There has always been much (needed) focus on identifying autistic children in an effort to get them the assistance they need, to grow into the adults they can be. But what happens when these individuals reach adulthood? What have we done for them once they reach adulthood? Have we helped them prepare for it? Have we done enough? Is it too late?
Nancy’s comments reminded me of our own ensuing reality. Yes, my daughter – and her son – went away to college. Her son already graduated and my Aspergirl graduates this year. Yes, they did just fine while away at school. But college is a micro culture. For those living on campus all four years, food never needs planning nor preparation (think dining halls); transportation is by foot or a bus system. Jobs tend to be on campus or nearby. Or, in my daughter’s case, transportation is provided by the school. In short, despite needing good executive functioning skills to navigate a campus and keep track of assignments and other obligations, college is a fairly self-contained, structured environment for those who wish it to be so.
But graduation day comes. And so does the job hunt. And so does the loss of structure. Are you or your young adult ready?
And what about the disparity in diagnosis of males vs females? The gender gap? Is it real or is there more to it? Like Dr. Tony Attwood, I agree many females go undiagnosed, or are not diagnosed until later in life. In fact, during my years of work I continue to encounter women who were not diagnosed until adulthood. These newly diagnosed adults need support, too!
This year, let’s get the conversation going on young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. Let’s make a push for awareness. Let’s help each other.
Do you have Asperger’s? Do you have concerns or tips you want to share? Please comment below! Are you a parent? Please do the same. Sure, it can be all about me and mine talking inside an echo chamber, but we all need more than one perspective, don’t we? Yeah, we do.
Let’s continue building community as Aspie childhood ends and adulthood begins!
Looking for resources on Asperger’s? NOTE: The following contains affiliate links, meaning I make a small commission (think coffee money) from purchases made via links in this post, at no additional cost to you. These are just a few resources I recommend, opinions are my own.
Tony Attwood’s work:
My book: “Asperger’s in Pink”