Adults with Asperger’s find that the accommodations and supports available for kids aren’t there for them. It’s increasingly recognized that children have sensory issues and supports are often made in schools to support social issues and social anxiety. Some accommodations are made for emotional reactivity and problems with becoming overwhelmed. Adults don’t grow out of these problems; in fact, some make the transition to college or try to find jobs and find little understanding and no support.
Social challenges may be confounding and complicate relationships with friends, work colleagues and partners. Accommodations in school may have helped with inflexibility, concrete thinking and difficulty with changes in routine, but these considerations aren’t typically made in work situations. Many parents of young adults with AS fear that their over-reactivity and poor social judgment may get them into serious trouble in the community.
Kristopher Jones on LinkedIn writes poignantly about his social anxiety and the increasing isolation he’s experienced. His writing is a narrative about his feelings of diminishing self worth and disconnection from the world, and his determination to overcome these problems.
I’ve worked with many AS adults with these problems.
A young woman’s rigid thinking, expectations of logical behavior and sensory challenges complicated her job at a school. Meetings and hiring involved school politics, and her work required her to monitor the cafeteria, which was a noisy, crowded environment.
A woman who was homeless had difficulty holding a job because of her social misjudgment and anxiety. She was repeatedly denied state social service benefits. Why? She needed an address, but she was too overwhelmed by the sensory and social overload of a shelter to live there as was required.
There are resources for information and support. The AANE (Asperger Autism Network in New England) www.aane.org has services available both locally and via Skype. Aspergers 101 aspergers101.com has terrific blogs and resources. www.aspergersyndrome.org and www.aspergers.com are support networks for individuals as well as a source for information.
John Elder Robinson, the best selling author of books including “Look Me In The Eye,” has hwww.johnrobison.com/resources.php, a website of resources and supports. There is an online support forum, asperger-syndrome.supportgroups.com. There are Facebook groups for Asperger adults, which share struggles and strategies.
In addition to providing important information, Aspergers101 has become proactive in addressing problems. They currently have a program training Texas state troopers in working with the AS population.
According to NPR’s All Things Considered (May 18, 2016), recent research by the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute suggests that many adults with autism, even when high functioning, don’t find work. However, there is increasing appreciation of the many strengths of adults with AS in the job market. Intelligence, attention to detail, focused interest and perseverance are great job skills.
usa.specialisterne.com is an organization dedicated to jobs for those in the autism community. According to their website, “we assess, train and employ individuals with autism as consultants in IT and other sectors with technically oriented tasks and jobs, with 80-90% of our employees working at corporate partner sites.” ASTEP asperger-employment.org/assistance-for-individual/ provides job search tools and websites for those with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The more we interconnect information and resources for social support and employment support, the easier it will be for adults with ASD to find appropriate help. As people with AS see the advantages of networking, they can organize to create a demand for services where they are needed. The more information that excellent self-identified AS writers such as Matthew Rozsa on the Few Good Men project and Kristopher Jones share in blogs and on social media, the more we can build understanding in the neurotypical world. The more adults with AS can contribute meaningfully to society, the more their unique strengths, insights and capabilities can be evident.
By Marcia Eckerd, PhD
Dr. Marcia Eckerd has been in practice as a licensed psychologist since 1985. I am on the CT ASD Advisory Council and the Clinical Advisory Committee of the Aspergers/Autism Association of New England, as well the professional advisory board of Smart Kids with LD. Aspergers101 is honored to offered the knowledge and experience of Dr. Eckerd through her informative blogs!