FRIDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Judy Blake knows all too
well the difficulties that children with autism face when
transitioning to adulthood. That's because she has two sons with
autism spectrum disorders who are now legally considered
Her oldest son is 21 and in his third year of college. Her
younger son, who's 18, will probably go to community college after
high school, but right now she's just not sure. He has more
difficulties stemming from his autism.
"Autism affects so many parts of your life -- social,
educational and in the workplace," Blake said. "With early
intervention, you hope you've given them the compensatory skills
they'll need, and then you just pray."
Blake said her oldest son is considered to be high-functioning
on the autism spectrum disorder. "He's brilliant, very bright, but
at times he has difficulty with social skills," she said.
Academic prowess doesn't come as easily to her younger son, and
she said that, when it comes to maturity, he's probably more like a
12- or 13-year-old right now. "He doesn't drive, and I don't
anticipate him driving," Blake said. "He's very trusting, and he
isn't capable of making his own decisions. I don't see him living
on his own. He's too introverted."
Her hope is that in 10 years or so he'll be able to move into a
group home with other autistic adults that has staff to monitor and
help the residents. One such home that she's aware of is reasonably
priced, offers help finding jobs and provides transportation to and
Most residential living facilities for adults with autism aren't
affordable, she said, and "often cost a fortune" -- sometimes more
than $50,000 a year. As a single mother, that's simply not
something she can even consider, and she suspects it's out of reach
for most families.
"There are just never enough resources," Blake said. "I think
that may be because these conditions are invisible as they
transition into adulthood. I think society is more accepting when
they can see the special need. When we can't see something, we tend
to speak before we think, and judge before we know. If my children
had a condition like Down syndrome, in my opinion, I think more
services would be available."
Blake said she's also noticed that people were more accepting
when her children were young.
"As they transition into adulthood, kids with autism are
perceived as weird, and they may find it difficult to make friends
or keep a job," she said.
In addition to a lack of resources for daily living and
education, Blake worries that her sons, especially her younger son,
might be taken advantage of. She also gives talks at police
departments to help police officers understand how a person with
autism might behave when stopped by the police.
"If the police pull over someone who won't look them in the
eyes, they assume that person is up to something," she
Parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder need to
"keep an open mind," Blake said. "What's going to work for one
adult with special needs might not work for the next. Some may need
a group home. Some may live in an apartment, but can't drive. There
are no cookie-cutter solutions."
She also pointed out that the transition from a child with
autism to an adult with the condition can be difficult for parents
as well. "It makes you realize that you're not going to be around
forever," Blake said. "It's really difficult for some parents to
realize that their child won't follow in their footsteps. It can be
the end of a dream for some parents. But, you have to do what is
best for your children."
Many local and online support groups exist for parents who are
having trouble coping, she said, or for those just looking for
advice or support.
Here's more on
the difficulties of caring for adults with