Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing group of developmental disabilities. Given the growing prevalence of ASD, there is increasing focus, understandably, on the screening, diagnosis, and interventions for young children. However, there is less attention placed on the challenges faced by young adults with ASD who are making the transition from the education entitlement system to an adult system based on available funding.
In May 2014, the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee (PRI) authorized a study to identify the needs of, and services available for, individuals with ASD, focusing on the transition from secondary school completion to young adulthood (up to age 25).
As we look at the answers that this study come up with state agency supported employment, independent living and other programs; We found that the answers for these questions were coming from a traditional services system that has and is continue to build a lot of knowledge of the intended people to serve but little understanding of who they are and what they truly need.
We discovered the video “Knowledge Doesn’t Equal Understanding” from the Youtube channel “Smarter Everyday”. The experiment of the backwards bike sparked a series of discussion and thoughts of how to provide a different approach for ASD individuals to attain independence and navigate the barriers and traditional approaches that may hinder their pursuits.
The common expression about a person being “stuck in his ways” is correctly used to describe someone who can’t or won’t change his habits that he/she has developed over time. However, we know that this label is unfair when looking at the actions, thinking and patterns we see in individuals with ASD.
At The Crossroads (ATC) believes that Education, Experiences and Empowerment make us who we are. Through change and growth, our personal beliefs can be developed or strengthened in understanding what is most important to us; serving people, pursuing excellence, embracing change, acting with integrity and being an asset to our communities.
We followed the suggestions of the video that a well-structured traditional learning environment cannot allow for success in a non-traditional approach. The student, colleagues, clinician and families would carefully designed outlines and preparation material to further assist the students in developing their approach to independence. However, there is a lot of room for the Students life to get messy.
The mess is where a lot of the learning and opportunities to change come from. The Mess or the unknown is the hardest part of this idea. Messy and unknown are scary, nevertheless we all plunge into these depths time and time again in order for us to achieve the success we crave.
We know it’s good for us but we don’t always allow young adults with ASD the same opportunities cause we don’t want them harmed. By looking at life in a backward bike way, we might be able to gain understanding into the way young adults perceive these messy situations and apply the knowledge that we possess to provide a full meaningful journey through the rest of their lives.