|Richard Maguire Says:|
Thursday, January 06, 2011 @1:44:11 PM
You and your daughter will do well. Temple Grandin's description of us as late bloomers is quite accurate. Things will click with your daughter at several times in the future. Each time they do she will move up one more shift in her development. I often say to parents in the service I run "wait until your child is 30". It's not much help now but we autistic people do develop a full set of abilities later in life. When we do develop new abilities we are usually very good at them as we have more life experience. Getting into work is a struggle for us. I remember my first job at 16 in a cycle shop. I lost the job quickly as I had not enough social organisational and interpersonal skills. But that was a learning experience. The employment has been a series of job gradually moving up the employment food chain, I learned new social skills and competencies at each juncture. I was a petrol station attendant, a shelf stacker, a hospital worker and so on. Today in my mid forties I run an autism service, I am widely respected and good at my job; this could not have been foreseen in my teens. Lots of us follow this path in our working lives. We do start off at the bottom and generally stay there for a long time, but when it is out turn to bloom, oh boy we do this very well and the feeling is great. I was not up to much in the world of work until my late 30's and life really did begin at 40.
A motive for earning money would be great for your daughter. Is there something she really wants that will cost money? This can give her focus and motivation to step out into the world of work. My motivation was to buy and run a motorbike. Voluntary work is sometimes a good place to start. I have helped people through this route. They can build up their skills and a cv that will be of interest to employers. I do hire people and one of the things I want to know most is; will this person work well in the team? A successful voluntary job will give a yes to this question.
I have not met your daughter but I am pretty sure she has lots to offer in the world of work and the potential to be happy and successful. We autistic people sit in a mountain of latent talent which takes decades to reference, access and use successfully. In the last few years I have been able to really use my latent talent and working life is brilliant now. I have a great working future to look forward to. Your daughter will get here too. We have a way of just keeping on until we succeed.
Your daughter will soon enter her 20's. This is often a difficult and crucial time for someone with autism; physical maturity combined with patchy development in other areas. It is important for us in this stage to keep our mental health and hope for the future. A read of Tony Attwood's book on Asperger syndrome explores this very well. He has a fictional character that is based on people he has worked with. They end up happy and in an employment niche where their autism equips them well. I too have seen this process in my life and lots of other autistic people I have worked with.
An approach to the college looks like a good strategy. Your daughter will need some effort and networking from you to get up into the world of work. Library work often suits us and I have met many autistic people in libraries. This is an area of employment we are often well suited for. Also library staff teams tend to be steady people and are frequently autism friendly by default. Also the pace of library work is soothing, as is the quiet.
I do reckon Melvil Dewey, who designed the library classification system, was autistic. He had a natural drive to classify and list everything, he was also socially reserved. His life does display a profile of an autistic man, although there were no adequate descriptions of autism nor could he have been diagnosed back then. An unintended consequence of his work is that many autistic people have found careers and fulfilment in libraries.
I do job and interview skills training with young autistic people. This, i think would be helpful to your daughter. I noticed your account of her attitude to the application form. This is not unusual. Being autistic and an interviewer I have helped autistic people understand the job selection process and what each sage means, also what people who interview and select are looking for at each stage. I feel that information, training and practice in this process would be of benefit.
I reckon you are a good mum and you are thinking and acting along the right lines. Good luck
Friday, January 07, 2011 @8:07:00 AM
Your post is an incredible encouragement to me. Thank you SO much! I will read this again and again.
My daughter already does some volunteer work. She's an apprentice at our local observatory, which she loves & she teaches all ages when there. Astronomy is second nature to her, but she doesn't want to study that in college because that would require too much math.
She wants to go to college, but we are not in a position to pay for it (we have 8 kids total). Her older siblings have all paid their own way in college, so this is a good example to her. No doubt the academics will hardly challenge her. She seems to remember every detail of everything she reads at any time.
Deep down, I know she'll succeed, but on a daily basis, as a mom, I worry about her all the time. This is a girl who writes her homework in mirror image with no extra effort, makes grammar corrections in her textbooks while wondering aloud how people with such poor writing skills actually get books published, and knows every detail about Walt Disney, even to the point of correcting modern historians!
I think she just needs a chance. The library job application took her days to fill out because she gave each and every question considerable, deep thought. She understands NOW that they don't/can't hire everyone who applies, but, at the time, she was really baffled.
Thanks, again, for your input. I don't know anyone around here who does what you do in training young autistic people for job interviews. Do you think I am out of line to pursue work for her and talk to potential employers myself on her behalf?
|Richard Maguire Says:|
Friday, January 07, 2011 @2:07:38 PM
Tricia, pursuing work for your daughter is fine, I've known a number of parents do this. What is important is that she gets work she is motivated enough at, to hold the job on her own merits. Even if a job does not work out there is a huge and positive learning experience there.
I have a feeling that an analytical and technical approach to the world of work would be of assistance. It's just that i picked up on her interest in astronomy, her ability to correct text book grammar and her capacity for knowing details.
Further to this an understanding of the connectivity between facts, details, life experiences and goals would be of help. It's that I detected a massive intellect and curiosity and detailed analysis of subjects. We autistic people are usually good at these things we frequently need help seeing the connectivity between these things and an ability to be strategic and place all this and other information into a whole. Further to this we frequently need help understanding relationships, in the fullest sense; relationships between areas of knowledge and relationships between people and organisations. Connectivity and relationships could be a useful area of study; for instance Walt Disney's relationship to film making, other studios and the art and practice of film making. Also an analysis of the social, economic and political times Walt Disney worked in and how this affected Disney films and how they are interpreted, then and now. There's a whole PhD thesis waiting to be made on these things. Also with regard to astronomy has your daughter related this to cosmology? There s also the history of astronomy and how this has influenced human culture and how people and civilisations have interacted with astronomy. When astronomers worked out the world was round and not at the centre of the universe this caused people, churches and civilisations some difficulty acknowledging and dealing with these facts.
These things could be useful in helping her with connectedness of thought and approach to life. I struggled with these things despite being academically gifted. For years I was unable to fit things including my life decisions and actions into a strategic whole. Goals and working priorities can flow from this.
With regard to the math, which areas are difficult? Often with autistic people we are good at visual disciplines like trigonometry and we struggle with algebra; the language of mathematics. I only got a maths qualification at 44, I struggled so much at school that I barely got to grips with math. However if the areas of difficulty are recognised they can be worked on. If math tutoring is to expensive there are some good math videos on You tube, the American ones are the clearest, most comprehensive and I reckon are best for autism. One can type in the area of maths one wants to learn and there is bound to be someone giving an online tutorial, these can be perused and replayed at will and can be a good way of memorising the techniques. I can recommend yourteachermathhelp from www.yourteacher.com their tutorials are particularly clear and concise.
It will take time for connectivity of thought and in life in general to make ground in relation to her intellect and reasoning skills, one reason why we are late bloomers. I do believe the future is good; getting there will be an autism type of development.
Oh one other thing, there will be lots of carry over skills with relation to connectivity, planning, strategy and communication from the astronomy teaching. Help with getting these connected with other areas of life would be of benefit. We don't often do this naturally but if taught and learning points are brought out we can build up frameworks for rounding out our lives.
She will get her chance. I think through being good at something and someone recognising her. Very often in our lives we get to bloom through the friendship support of someone who believes in us and our special gifts and ways. This happened to Temple Grandin and lots more of us.
Sunday, January 09, 2011 @4:43:55 PM
What is your daughter's "thing," Tricia? My (19 YO) son's is drawing cartoons. He loves humor AND art. He has successfully combined the two. Based on a great deal of research his mom has done, many cartoonists get "noticed" by running blogs of their strips. As such, Nolan's art has been copyrighted and, as of last week, we launched his blog:
He will never go to college (his anxiety is more debilitating than his autism. So he communicates with the world through the web.
Hey! Crazier things have happened! :)
Even if he doesn't get discovered, he now feels he's making the world a better place (education through humor... he's into preservation of the planet). He also doesn't have an interest in money, although he feels, if he is discovered, what $$ he doesn't need to live, he can donate to worthy causes. He's got a heart of gold!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @8:59:17 AM
Thanks, Cevans. Your son's blog is great! I'll look more at that. Kudos to him for pursuing what he loves and does well!
My daughter's "thing" is not just one thing. She's obsessive (in a good way) about grammar & it comes very naturally to her (she would be an excellent editor); she does cartoon spoofs that are near perfection; she's a Disney historian; and an amateur astronomer. But, she has no desire to study astronomy in school because of the math involvement. However, she already teaches it, some, at a local observatory.
Anyway, college isn't required, but I do think it would be good for her to get more education beyond our home school. She's only interested in online college, but it would be a little more out there. As for money, she knows she needs money to live, but, like your son, has no interest in money for money's sake. But, she does want to visit Disneyland and knows that it costs money!
Thanks for your input/concern.
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