When Our Autistic Kids Become Adults


As Neal celebrates his 16th birthday, I am met with the realities of parenting a child with severe autism. Neal will always need me to care for him.

Yes, he has come so far in his development. At one time too frightened to even leave the house due to sensory overload; he now loves going on adrenalin-producing amusement park rides. On the day he turned 16, he rode a roller coaster and requested going on “Soaring Over California” three times in a row (much to my weak stomach’s chagrin!) For the most part, Neal has chosen to leave the isolation of his inner world of autism behind and become part of this brave new world. Much of his story and how we got there is chronicled in my soon to be released memoir, Now I See the Moon www.nowiseethemoon.com (HarperCollins)

As Neal ages, I must help to create his world. But what options are out there for him? How can this tall, lanky teen whose thoughts and feelings are the same of any teenage boy (asking “when do we eat?” and flirting with cute girls) be part of a world that doesn’t completely understand autism?

This is especially true with nonverbal autistics. There are still lots of folks out there who believe that just because someone cannot speak, they do not hear or think. And Neal, bless his soul, can still go into tantrum mode if his schedule is upset or an unexpected noise startles him.

I’ve accepted that he will always need some kind of companion to help him navigate his adult world. But where will he live? Where will he work? Will he marry? Have children? Go on dates? What will happen to him after I pass?

Fortunately, I am not alone with my uncertainty. I’ve been going to conferences, becoming part of committees like the Jewish Federation Special Needs Task Force on Housing, and the Senate Select Committee on Autism, and everyone is asking the same question: “What happens when our kids become adults?” With a ratio of 1 of 110 folks having autism, and this number growing, we must find answers.

Answers come in surprising ways. I’ve just been privy to a new book which gives parents a road map to help their kids with autism navigate the real world, with tips on what to do when they become adults. Sixteen of the world’s most renowned autism experts united to give parents those answers and there are pearls of wisdom in every chapter. Authors include Dr. Temple Grandin, Bill Davis, Karen Simmons, Keri Bowers, Eric Chessen, Stephen Shore and Pat Wyman.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m going to order my copy today. Autism Tomorrow: The Complete Guide To Help Your Child Thrive In The Real World.

Elaine Hall on Twitter
Elaine Hall
Acting/Movement Coach. Speaker/ Media Personality - The Miracle Project, in Autism: The Musical. Author Now I See the Moon CoAuthor Seven Keys to Unlock Autism
Elaine Hall

Elaine Hall

Acting/Movement Coach. Speaker/ Media Personality - The Miracle Project, in Autism: The Musical. Author Now I See the Moon CoAuthor Seven Keys to Unlock Autism

0 thoughts on “When Our Autistic Kids Become Adults

  • July 19, 2010 at 1:39 am
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    Education is important from the parents and teachers’ sides, but at the same time they should never overly restrict their desires for their own future. Like my parents they merely give advices regarding my future after I finished my degree while telling do’s and don’ts when in work. Whatever it is, I know I will be able to survive when I become a true adult.

    @Springingtiger – That’s totally true. Everyone deserves a chance to make themselves integrate properly with the society.

  • July 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm
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    Corporate guardianship is a wonderful option for parents of adult children with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness. That’s the job I’m in currently and I see how it really opens doors for the clients, and gives the parents a new lease on life as well. You still have involvement and input. Just a thought. 

  • July 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm
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    There’s this website, that I am sure you will find to be very beneficial its called “Jobs 4 Autism.” You can visit them at http://www.jobs4autism.com. This site is dedicated to helping families and individuals with Autism find jobs and other activities. I often think about why there are not many resources for Autistic teens, and adults, eventually all those children do grow up! I write blogs on http://www.MySpeechTherapyCenter.com about communication wellness and awareness. Feel free to check us out! 

  • July 13, 2010 at 9:45 pm
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    Personally I believe part of the answer lies in education – helping the world understand what autism really is – and part in legislation to set up structures that allow people with autism to participate. I suppose I’m being stupid but is it so wrong to believe it possible to build a world where “normal” people actively try to involve people who are different?

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