All roads lead to community living. You may want to think early on about introducing your child to members of the community. Families may feel that as children enter adolescence, social differences become more apparent, and opportunities for leisure and socialization in the community become more difficult. As your child grows older, you and his or her educators may need to become creative in your efforts to create opportunities for social interactions. It is important to remember that integration into the community is a key component of happiness and independence in the lives of adults with autism. Interacting with others by participating in sporting events, joining a local club, or being a part of a religious community will improve selfesteem and confidence, and provide great enjoyment and pleasure. Whether an individual has contact with the bagger at the grocery store, or the crossing guard outside his or her school, these regular interactions are the foundation for being part of the community. This is just the beginning. Community ties can be developed at different times on different levels. Adults with autism can be active participants in all areas of community life including social and recreational activities, just like their peers. There is truly something for everyone. It may just take a bit more effort to find what your young adult with autism is looking for, and what social opportunities will provide him or her with the greatest amount of happiness.
“As part of the transition planning process, consider how individual interests might be used to help your son or daughter develop contacts outside of the classroom. Some interests (i.e. hobbies) have related organizations thatmeet socially: Yu-Gi-Oh!TM or Magic: the Gathering® clubs, science fiction clubs, computer/technology clubs, chess clubs, military history clubs, and so on. Introduce your young adult to these groups and encourage his participation. The ability to meet new people based upon a similar interest and expand his potential support system can be extremely helpful as your young adult gets older.”- Life’s Journey Through Autism, A Guide for Transition to Adulthood Organization for Autism Research, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center and Danya International, Inc.
Carol Schall provides a list of social skills that can be helpful our in the community as well as in the workplace. If your adolescent does not have these skills they may be worth considering as you work with your team to develop his or her IEP goals.
by Paul Wehman, Marcia Datlow Smith, Carol Schall