My Autism Yardstick
Q&A with Sharyl Attkisson (C-Span)

The Reailty of the Autism Epidemic: What Happens When Autistic Children Age Out of School?

FutureManaging Editor's Note: This post on the SafeMinds site is a glimpse of the future for so many of us.  The world is "aware" and "cares" and softly lit under blue lights while our kids age into an abyss of service, employment and housing choices regardless of the severity of their autism and Asperger's. Life will not be easy and we will have to work harder than ever.  And so we will.

By Heidi Roger

This time of year is very hard.

My friends and colleagues are all attending high school graduations, going to graduation parties, and talking about what colleges their kids got accepted to.

My son Andrew is not going to college.

Andrew is 19 years old but he does not have a driver's license, he has never had a girlfriend, he has not learned to shave himself. I have to help him wash his hair when he takes a shower.

Your friends talk about the milestones, rites of passage, and new opportunities for their kids. You nod and smile even though your stomach gets a knot in it, not because you aren't happy for your friends-you are-just because you had so many hopes and dreams for your own child too.

Jennifer and I talked on the phone every day. Her husband barbequed the best ribs in the state of New Jersey. Their daughter was born four months before Andrew and we were deliriously hopeful together. Jennifer had another child, Avery, a year after Andrew was born. Andrew was 27 months old when he was diagnosed with autism. I hit the ground running trying to help him, researching treatments, finding other parents to talk to , fighting-I mean advocating-for his education with our ill-informed school district.

When Andrew was five, we went to Jennifer's house for  a visit. Andrew walked around the room looking at colorful things that caught his eye. Avery was only four years old, he grabbed Andrew's Magna Doodle and made a beautiful drawing of a flower : "Look, Mommy, look what I drew!" Avery was being four -a typical four -that's all, but I couldn't breathe. My heart was broken in a thousand pieces.  Read the full post at Safeminds.

Comments

Autism Services

Responding to the autism establishment's denial of the obvious increase in autism, parent activists began insisting that governmental authorities investigate the problem.Autism is a developmental disability that affects the neurodevelopmental functioning of the individual, resulting in significant impairments in language, social interaction and behaviors. It is considered a spectrum disorder with the nature and degree of disability varying from person to person.

AutismGoAway

My personal belief, however odd it is, is that therapy does not really do much at all for autism unless it is mild. Our children need their bodies to be fixed. That might not be a hard thing to do but right now there is no solution that works with all kids/adults. Is there any motivation to find a solution beyond us tired parents? No. There is too much autism acceptance, autism celebration and autism is just like an ethnic food you haven't tried before. My child regressed badly but I refuse to believe that he lost all his health overnight. He is not brain damaged; he is just waiting for healing. A just world would do whatever it could to heal him rather than look on with a mix of mild interest and pity.

cia parker

What I think is stunning is the complete obliviousness of most people to the severe language disorder of autism, caused by the vaccine encephalitis cutting off circulation to the brain just the way a stroke does, often severely damaging the language and social center. An intact brain has shelves (so to speak) of language categories and grammatical structures just waiting to hear language and shelve the components heard in the right place, for easy assimilation and use. I heard a two-year old at Mass the other day say, when her twin sister was taken to the restroom, Why is she going bathroom? I was flabbergasted. A tiny baby who hadn't even been walking that long had already mastered the question format with its inverted word order as well as the present continuous to express an action still in progress, as WELL as the conceptual structure that allowed her to ask the reason for a perceived action. OK, she didn't get the preposition or the definite article, but still. Why were her parents so blasé, just accepting it as though it were not the most amazing miracle that I had ever witnessed?

Why is it taking "educators" so long to get with the picture? The reason so many autistic kids use echolalia and can repeat long phrases or paragraphs with word for word correctness shows that they have some capacities, but not the language structures to permit them to formulate logical, original sentences using many different grammatical structures. They must be built from the ground up, just as for (other) stroke victims, but, as far as I know, there are no language therapists for the autistic that are doing this. The language structures must have been built in the mind for any higher level reasoning and conceptual thought to take place.

Teresa Conrick

Heidi,

Thank you for writing about this. Andrew is so fortunate that you are his mom and such a great advocate! I can relate all too well as Meg's IEP and schooling will end in March. She is too ill and affected by behaviors to be able to work in a day to day setting and adult programs for her needs are often a group babysitting scenario. To tailor make her days is a huge challenge and worry. Regressive autism is a medical issue and we have to educate many people regarding that and that this is often the reason why programming for many adults is just inadequate right now.

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