A mother's hopes and worries for adult sons with autism

August 23, 2013 by Serena Gordon, Healthday Reporter
A mother's hopes and worries for adult sons with autism
They may find it difficult to make friends or keep a job, she says.

(HealthDay)—Judy Blake knows all too well the difficulties that children with autism face when transitioning to adulthood. That's because she has two sons with autism spectrum disorders who are now legally considered adults.

Her oldest son is 21 and in his third year of college. Her younger son, who's 18, will probably go to community college after high school, but right now she's just not sure. He has more difficulties stemming from his autism.

"Autism affects so many parts of your life—social, educational and in the workplace," Blake said. "With , you hope you've given them the compensatory skills they'll need, and then you just pray."

Blake said her oldest son is considered to be high-functioning on the . "He's brilliant, very bright, but at times he has difficulty with social skills," she said.

Academic prowess doesn't come as easily to her younger son, and she said that, when it comes to maturity, he's probably more like a 12- or 13-year-old right now. "He doesn't drive, and I don't anticipate him driving," Blake said. "He's very trusting, and he isn't capable of making his own decisions. I don't see him living on his own. He's too introverted."

Her hope is that in 10 years or so he'll be able to move into a group home with other autistic adults that has staff to monitor and help the residents. One such home that she's aware of is reasonably priced, offers help finding jobs and provides transportation to and from work.

Most residential living facilities for adults with autism aren't affordable, she said, and "often cost a fortune"—sometimes more than $50,000 a year. As a , that's simply not something she can even consider, and she suspects it's out of reach for most families.

"There are just never enough resources," Blake said. "I think that may be because these conditions are invisible as they transition into . I think society is more accepting when they can see the special need. When we can't see something, we tend to speak before we think, and judge before we know. If my children had a condition like Down syndrome, in my opinion, I think more services would be available."

Blake said she's also noticed that people were more accepting when her children were young.

"As they transition into adulthood, kids with autism are perceived as weird, and they may find it difficult to make friends or keep a job," she said.

In addition to a lack of resources for daily living and education, Blake worries that her sons, especially her younger son, might be taken advantage of. She also gives talks at police departments to help police officers understand how a person with autism might behave when stopped by the police.

"If the police pull over someone who won't look them in the eyes, they assume that person is up to something," she explained.

Parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder need to "keep an open mind," Blake said. "What's going to work for one adult with special needs might not work for the next. Some may need a group home. Some may live in an apartment, but can't drive. There are no cookie-cutter solutions."

She also pointed out that the transition from a child with autism to an adult with the condition can be difficult for parents as well. "It makes you realize that you're not going to be around forever," Blake said. "It's really difficult for some parents to realize that their child won't follow in their footsteps. It can be the end of a dream for some parents. But, you have to do what is best for your children."

Many local and online support groups exist for parents who are having trouble coping, she said, or for those just looking for advice or support.

Explore further: Research throws new light on why children with autism are often bullied

More information: Here's more on the difficulties of caring for adults with autism..

Related Stories

Research throws new light on why children with autism are often bullied

August 7, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A study of hundreds of teachers and parents of children on the autistic spectrum has revealed factors why they are more or less likely to be bullied.

Kids with autism outperformed others on math test, study found

August 16, 2013
(HealthDay)—Children with autism and average IQs consistently did better on math tests than non-autistic children in the same IQ range, according to a small new study.

Autism may be overlooked in young Latino children

August 19, 2013
(HealthDay)—Latino children typically are diagnosed with autism more than two years later than white children, and new research suggests that language-appropriate screenings and access to autism specialists are two big ...

Study aims to improve diagnosis of adult autism

September 14, 2012
Developing better tools to diagnose autism in adulthood is among the key aims of a new study by Flinders University PhD candidate Clare Holmes.

New study examines social isolation of young adults with autism spectrum disorder

May 2, 2013
Young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to never see friends, never get called by friends, never be invited to activities and be socially isolated.

Bullying harms kids with autism, parents say

January 11, 2013
(HealthDay)—Nearly 70 percent of children with autism suffer emotional trauma as a result of bullying, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Epigenetics study helps focus search for autism risk factors

January 16, 2018
Scientists have long tried to pin down the causes of autism spectrum disorder. Recent studies have expanded the search for genetic links from identifying genes toward epigenetics, the study of factors that control gene expression ...

Being bilingual may help autistic children

January 16, 2018
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often have a hard time switching gears from one task to another. But being bilingual may actually make it a bit easier for them to do so, according to a new study which was recently ...

No rise in autism in US in past three years: study

January 2, 2018
After more than a decade of steady increases in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

Autism therapy: Brain stimulation restores social behavior in mice

December 13, 2017
Scientists are examining the feasibility of treating autistic children with neuromodulation after a new study showed social impairments can be corrected by brain stimulation.

Social phobia linked to autism and schizophrenia

December 11, 2017
New Swinburne research shows that people who find social situations difficult tend to have similar brain responses to those with schizophrenia or autism.

Odors that carry social cues seem to affect volunteers on the autism spectrum differently

November 27, 2017
Autism typically involves the inability to read social cues. We most often associate this with visual difficulty in interpreting facial expression, but new research at the Weizmann Institute of Science suggests that the sense ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.