- Parenting Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders Through the Transition to Adulthood
- My Son's Life with Autistic Spectrum Disorder
This is the story of how my son, David, has tried to become independent. David is now 25–years–old. His immediate family is his dad, a brother (age 22) and myself (his mother). He was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when he was 13. We looked up all the information and decided not to make a big deal of it. Looking back, he displayed all the classic signs of a high functioning autistic disorder. Would he have been diagnosed with the new DSM 5 guidelines? He probably would have. His life would be much, much different if he had been diagnosed at an early age.
I'll start with David at age 13 when he was able to harness his big interest in computer science into a career for himself. He was expelled from middle school for threatening some kid that had been picking on him all year. He had a meltdown and wasn't able to communicate his side of the story and that was it.
During the summer of that year he took classes in computer engineering (Microsoft) and became an engineer when he was 13. At that time it was quite an accomplishment because he was the youngest person in the United States to do so at such a young age. (By the way, the administration of the school that expelled him sent him a congratulatory card when he was written up in the paper).
His father and uncle are in business running a computer company so David had a ready–made job waiting for him when he graduated from high school and was able to keep it during difficult times. David finished high school (mainstreamed special education as emotionally disturbed) and he also received another engineering certification (Cisco).
I have to mention here that I truly did not understand what it was like for my son until one day when he was in high school, as I was lecturing him again for some stupid reason, he said, "You don't know how hard it is for me to not sit in a corner and rock every day." Think about that. ASD individuals get up and keep going every day when they know they are going to be misunderstood and picked on. They all deserve a medal for bravery.
David became really upset that he had never had a date and that girls were not even interested in talking to him. He started cutting himself and shaving his head. That got him some attention from the stoner group. He had someone to sit with at lunch anyhow. Parents, I think it's better to have no friends than the wrong friends. They introduced him to drugs.
We did not mention any trouble David was having to any relatives. We had lived 800 miles from our families in a very unspoiled part of northern America. In hindsight this was not good either. [End Page 151]
Another thing, and I think every parent will agree with this—teachers, school staff, health care industry staff, doctors and every one that comes into contact with an ASD individual—take the time to get to know them. It may be difficult and some may appear non–caring and rude. You must overlook this and look to the person underneath. They are great people. They have been through stuff and it means so much to them. Like I said—parents, you know this. Please remember it when times get tough.
During David's senior year he started work release so he could start earning money to buy a car and move out as soon as he turned 18. Things were made easy for David since the company was owned by his father and his uncle and I worked there also. David enjoyed the work but had the occasional meltdown and had difficulties fitting in with other employees. He wasn't able to communicate...