Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Mom Confessions Mom Confessions

Autistic children and their future

Posted by Anonymous   + Show Post

Are you concerned with the next generation of autistic adults?  I think it's fair to wonder since there are more children diagnosed with autism everyday.  The numbers are alarming.  1 in 68.  (Edit) 

Discuss with empathy and class, please.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 28, 2014 at 4:23 PM
Replies (21-30):
Anonymous
by Anonymous 6 on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:40 PM
How Autism Can Help You Land a Job

DUBLIN—Some employers increasingly are viewing autism as an asset and not a deficiency in the workplace.

Germany-based software company SAP AG has been actively seeking people with autism for jobs, not because of charitable outreach but because it believes features of autism may make some individuals better at certain jobs than those without autism.


It's a worthy initiative, according to disability experts, since 85% of adults with autism are estimated to be unemployed.

Piloted in Germany, India and Ireland, the program is also launching in four North American offices, according to an announcement Thursday.

SAP aims to have up to 1% of its workforce—about 650 people—be employees with autism by 2020, according to Jose Velasco, head of the autism initiative at SAP in the U.S.

People with autism spectrum disorder—characterized by social deficits and repetitive behavior—tend to pay great attention to detail, which may make them well suited as software testers or debuggers, according to Mr. Velasco, who has two children with the condition.

In addition, these people bring a different perspective to the workplace, which may help with efficiency and creativity as well, he said.

"They have a very structured nature" and like nonambiguous, precise outcomes, Mr. Velasco said. "We're looking at those strengths and looking at where those traits would be of value to the organization."

Autistic employees at SAP take on roles such as identifying software problems, and assigning customer-service queries to members of the team for troubleshooting.

One employee works in "talent marketing," issuing communications to employees internally. The company is looking for someone to produce videos and is considering an applicant with autism who has experience in media arts.

SAP is also considering other positions, such as writing manuals to give clients very precise instructions on how to install software.

Individuals with autism might excel at going step by step, without skipping details that others may miss, said Mr. Velasco. The business procurement process, such as getting invoices or managing the supply chain, is another area in which an individual with autism might shine, he said.

SAP isn't the only company to have such a program. In the U.S., mortgage lender Freddie Mac has offered career-track internships since 2012, including in IT, finance and research.

The lender hired its first full-time employee from the program in January, according to a Freddie Mac spokeswoman. In IT, the company has found that interns often perform well in testing and data-modeling jobs that require great attention to detail and focus as well as a way of seeing things that might not have been anticipated by the developers.

"Harnessing the unique skills of people on the autism spectrum has the potential to strengthen our business and make us more competitive," according to the lender's policy.

To be sure, as with any group, people with autism have a range of interests and abilities. SAP is working with a Danish autism-focused training and consultancy firm, Specialisterne, which carefully screens and interviews the candidates to find the appropriate matches before sending them to SAP to evaluate.

Patrick Brophy, 29 years old, has a bachelor's degree in computer science in software systems and a master's in multimedia systems, which includes website development and editing. Mr. Brophy says he has Asperger's, a term commonly used to describe a milder form of autism spectrum disorder.

He had been looking for full-tine work for a few years but said that in the handful of interviews he went to, he would sometimes stutter or misinterpret questions, which he felt reflected poorly on him in the interviews.

When he arrived at SAP for the screening day, however, he had the technical qualifications and he appeared to have skills to work in a corporate setting, according to Peter Brabazon, Specialisterne program manager. Mr. Brophy was hired by the quality assurance department in July, where he identifies glitches in software prior to it being issued to clients.

"Four weeks before joining, I was steadily more and more nervous," said Mr. Brophy, who worried about his adjustment to a new environment. "Within a month, [the work] was second nature. I had found myself."

Mr. Brophy said there have been challenges with his job, particularly when he has to revamp how he does a certain task.

From a social standpoint, he found it easy to integrate into his team, said both Mr. Brophy and David Sweeney, a colleague assigned to be his mentor.

About 1% of the population in the U.S.—or some three million people—is thought to have an autism-spectrum disorder. The latest figures issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one in 68 children have been identified with an autism-spectrum disorder.

Their lifetime employment rate is extremely low even though many want to work, said disability experts. Among young adults between 21 and 25 years old, only half have ever held a paid job outside the home, according to a study published last year in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Though many people with autism go on to higher education and are qualified for employment, they may have trouble getting in the door of a workplace because of difficulties with networking or interviews, according to Wendy Harbour, executive director of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, at Syracuse University.

There are a number of companies and outreach efforts that aim to hire people with autism, seeking to tailor work to their abilities.

But SAP and employers like Freddie Mac said their effort is specifically a business decision to take advantage of what they see as unique skill sets.

SAP said that individuals being considered to work there usually have had at least some higher education.

In Dublin, the candidates arrive at the company's software design center, dubbed the "AppHaus," which features open spaces, movable desks and whimsical furniture. They are asked to work in pairs on a task building a motorized robot. Candidates are given the instruction manual and brief instructions.

Assessors from Specialisterne look to see if the candidates listen to instructions and pick up on cues, and how they react to challenges such as how the colors of the pieces to the robot look different from the instruction manual. "I want to see how they work together and their technical skills," said Debbie Merrigan, one of the assessors for Specialisterne.

She wants them to be meticulous, she says. If they aren't it doesn't mean they aren't employable, but they may not be a good fit for working at SAP. Sometimes candidates get overwhelmed and simply leave.

After Specialisterne identifies a candidate as being a good fit, SAP then conducts further interviews, as they would with any other applicant, says Kristen Doran, a program manager in human resources at SAP Dublin. At this facility, 15 candidates were screened and interviewed in order to hire the three who are currently placed as contractors. Mr. Brophy works in the quality assurance department while the other two individuals are in the troubleshooting division.

The candidates are paid market rate and if they succeed on the job, they will be hired as full-time employees after a year, said Liam Ryan, managing director of SAP Labs Ireland.

Difficulties with social interaction and inflexibility can sometimes pose significant problems for individuals with autism, and SAP has a mentoring system and in some cases has made changes to the work schedule to accommodate these new employees. The company also conducts a month of employee-adaptation training to increase employees' comfort level at working with the team as well as another month or more of job training.

"It's hard to go into a corporate space if you prefer order to disorder," says Thorkil Sonne, founder of Specialisterne. "Our biggest effort is to work with them…to define and strengthen their comfort zone," said Mr. Sonne, who has a son with autism.

Write to Shirley S. Wang at shirley.wang@wsj.com
Anonymous
by Anonymous 7 on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:41 PM
Yes, I think about it on occasion but in the end it really is not my problem.
quickbooksworm
by Ruby Member on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Even now, people with certain disabilities get stuck in certain types of jobs.  My older cousin has a painting business and employs only deaf painters (he is deaf too).  Most of the people he hires have a very hard time with gainful employment.  I'd be happy to hire my friend with MS or my mom with her weird condition or deaf employees, etc, but the fact is, there are limitations on how far they could go without being able to perform certain job functions. 

And how employable autistic people are definitely depends on the individual.  But the need for structure and routine, difficulty interacting with other people, outbursts... these things are going to make it difficult to keep a job or advance.  That is not something I would want to take on.  Even the ADA cannot make a business hire or keep someone with a disability if they are unable to perform entire job functions.

Quoting Anonymous:

That is an excellent point.  Persons with physical handicaps have only recently gained full employability thanks to the changing attitudes over the past couple of decades; and the federal government pushing into law handicap accessibility regulations and tougher anti-discrimination laws as well.

With regard to Autism,  it's uncharterec territory in many ways.  These autistic children are growing up and the challenges they face are growing with them.  It is not 'curable'; nor has it proven to be a sustainable condition that they will be able to manage adulthood.  How will they enter the workforce?  Will they have the level of education to be productive in a job, and most worrisome, the social and verbal disconnection many autistic children suffer with is not acceptable in a work environment.  

Quoting quickbooksworm:

I think it's a fair question.  The thing that concerns me is how some of these people are going to work.  There are so many behaviors that are "excused" as part of a disability, but they also make someone not employable if they can't adapt to a work environment.  I'd be more likely to accommodate someone with a physical disability as an employer.



acrogodess
by Ruby Member on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:41 PM
1 mom liked this

Honestly, every child is different. My son just "graduated" occupational therapy. In just a matter of weeks, he is writing legibly, can tie his shoes, and manipulate buttons.

He graduated physical therapy back in public school in 2011. There he worked on motor skills - catching a ball, jumping, etc. He has low muscle tone. 

He has always functioned at or above grade level.

He doesn't have any friends his own age, but he is super friendly and kind and funny. Adults and younger children love him. 

I personally work on him  understanding the context in a tone (sarcasm, joking, etc), as well as remind him about personal space. He does not need my reminders as often. 

Most people do not think he is autistic. They just think he is a "normal" child, but weird. 

He's into video games, Pokemon, Yugi-Oh. Things like that. 

Obsessed with food. So much so that I am encouraging him to work on his writing skills (his oratory skills are excellent) so he can do reviews and be a food critic, although, I guess he can do an online food vlog. 

He is 13. 

I try and treat him as normally as possible and I think that helps a lot. 

He has chores at home, is expected to keep up with his school work, and is always expected to have good manners. 

Quoting Anonymous:

How is it determined if a child is either high or low functioning?  I am assuming that high functioning is a child that is highly intelligent, yet is socially awkward?  I mean no offense at all.  I'm trying to understand.

Quoting acrogodess:

I am not concerned for my son because he is high functioning. The only concern is for lower functioning individuals and they generally live in group homes and receive SSI when they are older. 



Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:46 PM

Thanks for your reply.  I certainly want every child to succeed.  I don't like to think the worst, but I hear so much information from too many sources.  It's confusing. 

Quoting KREX0914:

A good number of those "1 in 68" are high functioning. My 4 year old was classified as "high functioning autistic" and as having "receptive communication disorder" by the local educational psychologist. She does not handle social situations with much grace, but otherwise she looks and acts just like any other preschooler. My brother was diagnosed with Aspburger's at age 4 and he was perfectly fine being mainstreamed without any special education classes. He even has a full ride scholarship to a good college. Other than having the label and being a little "quirky" to say the least, no one would know the difference. Because it is a spectrum and so many people are actually high functioning, I don't think it is going to be nearly as big a problem as some would like to think.


Anonymous
by Anonymous 8 on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Mobile Photo

.
Pandapanda
by Silver Member on Mar. 28, 2014 at 8:53 PM
Yes and no. People use their child's diagnosis as a way to get attention, to make excuses, to get away with things. Kids that are able to function, even at a delayed level, still need to be treated like normal children. The "autism card" is going to be the "racist card" of the 2020s.

My sister is 17, and was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome a few years back. She's a mega ass sometimes, no tact. Her dad and therapists all told her it's okay if she drops out, it's okay to just claim ssi disability. Her doctors said she'd never go to college let alone manage high school.. she's in 10th grade, but she's going for it because my mom encouraged her to go for her dreams.

Tldr version: I worry about the pussyfooting parents do that inevitability just holds back their HIGH functionig autistic children.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 9 on Mar. 28, 2014 at 9:18 PM
A lot of the great minds in science have symptoms of autism and are thought to may have had autism. There are celebrities, like Daryl Hannah, Susan Boyle and Dan Akroyd that have come forward with their autism diagnosis.

Many adults that are currently in the workforce are undiagnosed, but may have autism. I have met quite a few women on here that were diagnosed as adults.

"Function" is a term that is starting to no longer be used. Just because you are considered "low functioning" as a child doesn't mean you'll be considered it as an adult, or teen even. Jacob Barnett (youngest astrophysicist and nominated for a nobel prize) and Carly Fleischmann (coauthor and nonverbal adult that is currently attending a university and has a large internet following) are both examples of what a "low functioning" child with autism can accomplish.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Mar. 28, 2014 at 9:22 PM

Aww, thanks for sharing!  He looks very happy, and does have a kind face.  You obviously love and care for him with everything you have.  I can see it in your face.  It's so upsetting when I hear about kids being diagnosed with autism because of the vast unknown in front of them.  It's good to hear that your son is doing well.  I'm sure he will continue to achieve all his dreams, and meet friends In due time because of the support system he has around him.

Quoting acrogodess:

Honestly, every child is different. My son just "graduated" occupational therapy. In just a matter of weeks, he is writing legibly, can tie his shoes, and manipulate buttons.

He graduated physical therapy back in public school in 2011. There he work on motor skills - catching a ball, jumping, etc. He has low muscle tone. 

He has always functioned at or above grade level.

He doesn't have any friends his own age, but he is super friendly and kind and funny. Adults and younger children love him. 

I personally work on him with understanding the context in a tone (sarcasm, joking, etc), as well as remind him about personal space. He does not need my reminders as often. 

Most people do not think he is autistic. They just think he is a "normal" child, but weird. 

He's into video games, Pokemon, Yugi-Oh. Things like that. 

Obsessed with food. So much so that I am encouraging him to work on his writing skills (his oratory skills are excellent) so he can do reviews and be a food critic, although, I guess he can do an online food vlog. 

He is 13. 

I try and treat him as normally as possible and I think that helps a lot. 

He has chores at home, is expected to keep up with his school work, and is always expected to have good manners. 

Quoting Anonymous:

How is it determined if a child is either high or low functioning?  I am assuming that high functioning is a child that is highly intelligent, yet is socially awkward?  I mean no offense at all.  I'm trying to understand.

Quoting acrogodess:

I am not concerned for my son because he is high functioning. The only concern is for lower functioning individuals and they generally live in group homes and receive SSI when they are older. 



Stephw1110
by Silver Member on Mar. 28, 2014 at 9:23 PM

When they put out these statistics I really wish they would add in things like a percentage of high, middle, and low functioning.  It would make them much easier to look at overall.  Most high functioning will go on into society with little help.  Most will hold good jobs and be self suficient, probably leading normal lives as we would all think of.  Middle functioning will probably need some help.  But depending on what interventions were taken at a young age and what services are needed and available in adulthood, this person could still be a functioning member of society.  Low functioning are the ones that will always need help such as a group home.  I would be very interested to see these statistics.  I have a feeling the reason the we see such a steep increase is because a lot of the middle and high functioning kids weren't diagnosed years ago.  Yes I believe there's more people with autism but I also believe the better diagnosis is causing more people to fall in the higher categories.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN