April is Autism Awareness month and every April, it has been my mission to raise awareness in ways people do not normally do so. Last year I wrote about the stupid and ignorant things people say to autistic people and here is the link to those who wish to read that post: https://collectionofclancy.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/dumb-things-said-to-autistic-people/ This year I have decided to write about the challenges many people in the Autism Spectrum Disorder face when they reach adulthood. The reason why I decided to do this is because with so many services to ensure more autistic children than ever receive diagnosis and early intervention a lack of knowledge and support to ASD adults who weren’t severe became painfully apparent. Many of these I learned for myself through experience.
- Third Level Institutions approach disabilities differently to school: Since universities and colleges are responsible for thousands of students every year, they are very experienced in dealing with students of disabilities including autism. Their support services are very extensive, and you ultimately choose what you need and when you need it, which gives you more freedom to deal with your problems than school did.
- Autism is always an extra factor in every academic decision you make. Applying for college, going on Erasmus year and applying for post-graduate study can be stressful as it already. However, people with autism must always take their condition into account. In my case, I am currently preparing for my Erasmus year in the UK. The university I chose was based on what was on offer, accessibility and distance from the nearest airport, subjects, my parent’s wishes for me not to go to America alone, my personal preferences, and of course what support services the university had for autistic people like me. Even after getting my place I will have to contend with registering with their support service as well as organising accommodation and subjects, which is annoying.
- Job applications causes dilemmas. CV, check. Cover letter, check. Application, check. Interview attire, check. Questions, check. The problem, do I tell the employer or HR manager that I have autism? It is the big question we all face and sadly no definitive answer. Will you be rejected the job if you tell them mid-interview? If you get it, will they be angry you didn’t say it sooner? Do you get the appropriate help if you need it? Will you be seen as a valuable worker or the office autistic? Do autistic people ever get jobs at all? Seriously, I actually don’t know.
- Most partners will accept you for who you are. When you are single and without experience, you are scared no person will accept you or your autism in the romantic or sexual context. That is not entirely the case. Many partners are attracted to who you are as person and see beyond the condition. Unfortunately, you may encounter some who only see you as an entertaining clown and nothing more because of the quirks you cannot control. Those people do not deserve your love nor your time.
- It is very easy to worry about the future because there is no information out there. Many people with autism worry about the future because they have no idea how to deal with jobs, whether or not your kids will inherit autism too, whether or not you are capable of raising kids, can you live independently, where you will go when your disability services are gone. I have gone through a lot of searches about autistic adults and there is very little out there, or it is negative, causing me to panic about the future often.
- You are not the only one. In my experience, it has been difficult to find people who are like me. They are either much younger than I am or they are at a different intellect. Luckily, through college and the services I am registered with, I have found people who are similar to me, which is refreshing and reassuring to know that I am not alone.