What is important to know before my Aspergers teenage son turns 18?

Question

What is important to know before my Aspergers teenage son turns 18?

Answer

Stepping into adulthood can be a confusing and difficult time for the Aspergers (high functioning autistic) teen. However, it does not have to be. Many teens with Aspergers are fairly well adjusted after years of living with the associated symptoms and adapting to better fit into their environment.

Here are a few areas that can cause problems for the teenager with Aspergers:
  • Employment
  • Independent living skills
  • Post secondary education
  • Relationships and social skills
  • Self-care issues

Moms and dads can help their Aspergers teen prepare for life as an adult by making sure he has the right amount of support. Support can come from many sources. Parents, teachers, school advisors or counselors, medical professionals, therapists, friends, and support group members cover most, if not all, of the basic areas of life.

Some geographical areas offer support for the Aspergers teen through government agencies. With a qualifying diagnosis, your teenager may be able to receive health insurance coverage, housing assistance, various therapies, vocational training, and career counseling, just to name a few possibilities. Check with your local government or disability services office to learn more about availability in your area.

It might help if you make a list of the skills you would like to see developing in your Aspergers teen. By making this list, you will be able to see his strengths and weakness and help determine a plan for his immediate future.

Here is a sample list:
  • Social skills and relationships-- Does he have the ability to relate to others and communicate, verbally and non-verbally? Should he continue with social skills classes or perhaps find a home program?
  • Self-care-- Does he have good personal hygiene? Does he understand the importance of regular medical care and keeping track of his medications?
  • Coping skills-- Can he handle the anxiety, emotions, and frustration often brought on by change? Should he begin cognitive therapy to help with his emotions?
  • Career and college choices-- Has he chosen a path based on his special interests and talents? What colleges are grabbing his interests? Do these schools offer disability support services?
  • Basic living skills-- Does he understand the importance of housekeeping, budgeting, and grocery shopping?

Moving into adulthood does not have to be daunting for your teenager with Aspergers. Teens can develop the necessary skills for college, career, and independent living with the right support.

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