The Autism Society estimates that about 1% of the World’s population has some form of autism and almost 4 MILLION people have some form of autism just in the US. Were you expecting that number to be in the millions? Probably not, we sure didn’t. Thirty-five percent of young adults with autism are unemployed and do not continue their education after high school. Adolescents with autism desire relationships, just like everyone else, but sometimes lack the social and communication skills required to make and maintain these relationships. Imagine if you lived a life constantly being judged by people you wished to have as friends. Sounds pretty terrible! One of the biggest struggles for someone with autism is learning how to cope in different environments especially when few are accepting of autism.
There is no cure for autism, but many practitioners and researchers have dedicated their lives to teaching people with autism how to cope in certain situations that give them anxiety. For example, adapting to the environment can be a difficult task for adolescents with autism. Thus, researchers have developed ways to help youth with autism react differently to the environment through problem solving or emotion regulation. Learning to cope can be very helpful because these skills can be used across settings and enable them to disengage from problems when necessary. While some strategies exist, we realize that there is no cookie cutter model that will work for every young person with autism.
Some people our age may have trouble knowing how to interact someone with forms of autism. No one likes to stick out of a crowd like a sore thumb. Some youth with autism struggle when it comes to taking the initiative to ask someone to hangout or be friends. We encourage people our age to be better brothers, sisters, friends, classmates and partners to adolescents with autism. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Start a conversation with another person with autism about something you both might like… It might make their day.
- Be patient. It may take someone with autism a bit longer to feel comfortable, so it’s a good thing that being patient is key to a great friendship.
- Inform others about how to treat youth with autism… kindly, with dignity and respect just like you would treat anyone else!
- Share things that have worked for you in our comments section!
April is Autism Awareness month, so please check out the links below to learn more about autism and neurological differences!
- Autism speaks: https://www.autismspeaks.org
- Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/wendy-klag-center-for-autism-and-developmental-disabilities/
- 10 Things Your Autistic Friend Wants You to Know (The Frisky): http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-03-20/10-things-your-autistic-friend-wants-you-to-know/
By: Augusta Worthington & Mary Davlin
Augusta Worthington and Mary Davlin attend Garrison Forest High School. As participants in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program, they are working with and learning from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health.