Sometimes, when I feel like worrying myself into nausea, I think ahead to what my son will do once he graduates high school (if I want to worry myself into hyperventilation and passing out, I think about what he'll do once his father and I are gone). As a child with autism, he will someday be a man with autism, and a man with autism isn't somebody who can get or keep a job that easily, unfortunately.
It's not that David won't be able to work. If you have something repetitive, if you need someone who's sunshine all the time and can do a lot of the same stuff over and over - he's your guy. And he'll be the best damn employee they've ever had, as long as they know how to work with him and he can compensate when he needs to.
An employer like that is going to be hard to find, I know. And according to this article I just read, it's going to be even harder than I'm probably thinking it is.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, more than half of young adults with autism remain unemployed after high school - that's five times the rate of young people with emotional problems, learning disabilities, and impaired language/speech.
That's not because they have nothing to give. It's because people don't know how to speak autism. How to understand autism. How to properly accommodate autism. How to embrace autism and put it to work.
We need more. We need people like this. And this. And this. And we need them now, so parents like me can live without making ourselves sick with worry.
So sons and daughters like my kid can live and work and laugh and feel needed and productive.
It's not too much to ask, and they have so much to give.