Aspergers Adults and Independence

Question

My 19 yr old son has recently been diagnosed with Aspergers. He managed to get through high school and although we did have some concerned and sought help, we were told that all he needed to do was to mature. The trigger for his diagnosis came when he was away for his first year college and failed every class. This last year has been one of trying to understand what happened, getting the diagnosis and trying to figure out where to go from there. He has been unable to keep a job. He works for a few months then just stops going to work. He does not seem to be very interested in finding work or going back to school. He has a few interest (music, Japanese, Magic cards and of course computer games) but the only thing he has any focus with is his computer games and the magic cards. He says he would like to be a writer, but spends little time actually writing. He does not communicate very much with us but does seem comfortable with his psychologist. My concern is that both his father and I work full time and he is at home not doing anything. I have had to disable the router to ensure he does not spend the whole day on the computer. I will leave him 2 or 3 chores to do, and he will do those most of the time, but will make it seem like a big hardship. My question is: how do we help him find his way and become more independent?

Answer

Many adults with Aspergers (high-functioning autism) are able to work successfully in mainstream jobs, although they may continue to need encouragement and moral support to maintain an independent life.

Our 25 year-old son, Jake, was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was 15. He has a B.A. in creative writing, but has gone back to school to complete a two-year college program in accounting. He hopes what he learns about accounting will help him land a full-time job. He’s living at home and working part-time at our public library.

While he’s done well in his accounting classes, Jake recently had difficulties with some long-term assignments for a complicated auditing course. He was frustrated and his mother and I were concerned. Jake made it clear that he wanted to prove he could handle this without his parents’ help.

The solution involved my wife engaging the assistance of Jake’s job coach. The coach met with Jake to work out a new plan, including studying in the library away from distractions. They came up with a schedule for completing parts of the assignments. This schedule included, if necessary, approaching the course’s professor before the projects were due, to request additional time.

On his own, Jake enlisted a fellow student to explain some of the difficult concepts involved and started breaking down the obstacles that had caused his frustration. His mother and I were relieved. We were also impressed with Jake’s initiative in seeking another student’s help.

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