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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Coming of Age: Autism and the Transition to Adulthood

From Media Planet's Blog "Future of Personal Health"

By Linda J Walder, Founder and Executive Director
The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation for Adult Autism

“If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.”

Jimmy Scancarella, stock room clerk and “go-to”
employee at PPI-Time Zero, Fairfield, New Jersey

In the next decade, 500,000 children with an autism diagnosis will become adults. But what do we really know about them? What are their hopes and abilities, and what can we as a society do to provide the opportunities and support they will need to live, work and attain their individual goals?

Updating the Dialogue

It’s time to get real about adult autism and the diverse individuality of this population. What does it mean to “get real about adult autism?” First, we need to acknowledge the misconceptions and misinformation that exists.

Internationally respected teacher Dr. Stephen Shore, who is also diagnosed, has stated, “If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.”

Adults have various manifestations of autism, but all are people like others with a unique personality, abilities and struggles. The fact is that strengths and talents can be enhanced and nurtured when given opportunities to work in the mainstream.

Jimmy Scancarella, a 26 year old man, is a great example of how an opened door to employment at PPI-Time Zero led to full-time job success as a stock room clerk.

Individualized Understanding

Another misconception is that one-size fits all in housing and residential options. Denise Resnik, Founder of First Place espouses the view of professionals that a variety of safe, community settings leads to greater self-sufficiency, independence and fulfillment for individuals and peace of mind for their families.

According to 32-year-old Amy Gravino, one of the biggest misconceptions is that “not having the skills to form interpersonal relationships means that the desire is not there.” In her upcoming book, “The Naughty Autie,” Amy writes about her dating journey. Like most people, Amy is looking for someone to love and accept her for who she is.

Getting real about adult autism means that people are not defined solely by a diagnosis and that all are worthy of living their best life possible in an open-minded society.

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NESCA Comprehensive Transition Services

Transition is the process, ideally beginning at age 14 if not sooner and extending through high school graduation and beyond, by which an adolescent or young adult masters the life skills necessary to function independently in post-secondary school or the workplace.

NESCA can provide complete transition assessment (including testing, community-based observation and coaching), consultation, planning, college selection and other support services, coordinated by Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS. Other members of our transition team include NeuropsychologistJason McCormick, Psy.D.Sandy Storer, MSW and Transition Pioneer Marilyn Weber.

We are unique--and unmatched in this region--in the wealth of experience provided by our veteran staff, the breadth of their offerings, the in-depth approach that these embody and the positive outcomes they help to achieve.

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