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Monday, November 13, 2017

The Challenges Of High Functioning Autism

I came across this article last week regarding some of the challenges that face a person with high-functioning autism.

It's very easy to dismiss someone who's higher on the spectrum. They can often hold jobs, do average-to-well in school with some accommodation, and overall don't seem as "disabled" as people who are further down the spectrum.

While that's partly true, that doesn't mean being a high-functioning autistic lets you blend right in and function as an adult without any issues. I speak about this because I've got a son who just turned fourteen. In four short years, my son will be an adult, legally and physically. But his emotional state and social capabilities lag far behind that physical age.
My son will be an adult who:

  • Has very little grasp of when he's being taken advantage of. If someone is his friend, he trusts them implicitly and instantly. A neighbor or coworker could put on a friendly face and my son would empty his bank account, let them move into his house, borrow whatever they want to borrow. He could even be the target of an unscrupulous girl looking for a meal ticket - or worse, a baby daddy. I'm doing my best to caution him about all of this, but he's so socially clueless, it's not easy.
  • Has sensory issues that an employer, manager, or coworker may not easily understand or accommodate
  • Has difficulty communicating that increases dramatically in stress situations, coupled with a poor inability to read social cues. He may say the wrong thing, then make it worse when he thinks he's making it better. He may say something deemed inflammatory or offensive or even sexually harassing without realizing that he did so. Again, I'm doing my best to cover all the "don't say this" stuff, but there's a lot of it, and so much of it depends on circumstance. 
And unfortunately, in the state of Pennsylvania, high-functioning autism isn't even considered a disability once my son turns 18 and graduates high school. As far as they're concerned, he qualifies for no protective disability designation that would give him certain protections under law, and certain accommodations in the workplace.

Just another day of concerns that swirl around you when you're an autism parent, or a person on the spectrum. 

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