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August 2017

Louden on Autism Q & A: Life After High School

560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A: Volume 6. Today, I’m back to answer a question submitted by a website visitors to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.

 

Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.

 

This week, I received a question about children with autism who are nonverbal. This is a very common topic, so I wanted to address it in this week’s post.

 

QUESTION

 

My daughter has autism (high functioning) and has been excited about the debut of Julia on Sesame Street and other TV stars with autism. She is 20 years old, and she loves theatre and film. I want to find programs for her to join after high school. I would love to hear your advice and understand more about the challenges you have faced post high school/pre college years. She is incredibly confident on stage!

 

ANSWER

 

There are some programs that I’m aware of. I largely focus on trying to understand and communicate my experiences, so I’m not as knowledgeable as I’d like to be in terms of services available.

 

Particularly, as you’ve noticed, services for adults are fairly limited, though there’s a definite increase in interest. I do know of the Burkhart Center at Texas Tech in Lubbock that focuses on either developing job skills or a collegiate plan. They seem to have a fairly broad approach to things, but I believe have a considerable waiting list. There’s also the nonPareil Institute in Plano and Houston (you may have noticed my knowledge is fairly Texas based right now).

 

They’re also focused on developing employability, mainly with a focus on programming, computer art, and game design skills. They’ve expressed a desire to expand, and among those are film and other media. So, there are things like that out there. An online search might be a great place to start!

 

As for the challenges I personally faced, it was mostly in self-management. I failed to pay my bills in a timely manner, failed to attend classes, or turn in assignments. I had no problem keeping up, but while I wanted to get things done, I wasn’t able to self-manage myself and overcome anxiety and other barriers that prevented me from acting. One thing I strongly feel about autism is that while many people see a goal as “helping them have a typical life” the more important goal is “help them have a happy life.”

 

Sometimes this means foregoing a college degree and finding your niche elsewhere. Sometimes it means pushing through and figuring out how to make it work. If she’s confident on stage, it might be worth looking into alternative approaches to developing acting skills outside of college. Maybe a local theatre group or improv classes.

 

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.