How Will My Son [high functioning autistic] Do As An Adult?

“I have a 19 y.o. son with high functioning autism. I am curious how he will do out in the world as an adult. How well do people with the condition truly 'function' when they actually have to fend for themselves?”

One of the most interesting and useful sources of data on outcome derives indirectly from observing those parents of kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) who themselves appear to be somewhere on the autism spectrum.

From these observations, it is clear that HFA does not preclude the potential for a more "typical" adult life. These grown-ups will often gravitate to a job or profession that relates to their own areas of special interest, sometimes becoming very proficient.

Many young people with HFA and AS are able to successfully complete college – and even graduate school. However, in most cases, they will continue to demonstrate (at least to some extent) subtle differences compared to “typical” adults. For example:
  • Many find their way to psychiatrists and other mental health providers where the true, developmental nature of their problems may go unrecognized or misdiagnosed.
  • Their rigidity of style and idiosyncratic perspective on the world can make interactions difficult, both in and out of the family.
  • There is a risk for mood problems (e.g., depression, anxiety).
  • They can be challenged by the social and emotional demands of marriage, although many do marry.
  • They may exhibit significant differences in social interactions.

It is estimated that 30-50% of all grown-ups with HFA or AS are never evaluated or correctly diagnosed. These individuals are simply viewed by others as "different" or “odd.” I’ve counseled many young adults that I believe fall into this category, yet I’m frequently amazed by how many of them have been able to capitalize on their strengths (usually with support from family) to achieve a high level of functioning, both personally and professionally.

In fact, some of these high-functioning men and women represent a unique resource for society in general, having the single-mindedness and consuming interest to advance our knowledge in various areas of engineering and science (just to name a couple).

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

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