Autism is a developmental delay. This is particularly important when it comes to our youth who are at the age typical youth graduate from high school and launch into their adult life. Typically developing youth are ready to go off to college or become employed in a full time job upon high school graduation. For a few, this happens immediately upon high school graduation, but for most it takes another process where they work a job, attend higher education, and move away from the family home – either all at once or a little at a time so that over the next few years the high school graduates find their starting place in the big wide world.
Common Threads Family Resource Center in McFarland, Wisconsin, USA is a wonderful organization meeting the complex needs of individuals on the autism spectrum and other significant challenges. I work for and have been connected with Common Threads for many years and am so happy to let you know we have been selected as one of the 200 finalists in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program! Our submission, along with the other finalists, are live on Facebook and anyone who gets the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Facebook application can log on and vote for our cause. I am asking you to please vote for our MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT project, but first, let me tell you a bit about this venture.
As an adult with autism small talk is the most difficult of all communication and yet it is likely the most important communication skill when it comes to developing real relationships with other human beings.
I think of small talk as all the word fluff that people “lacking” autism (love to say it that way!) seem to require. I was reminded again last night when a dear friend popped out to chat online with me. Here is how our conversation started:
Learning the hidden curriculum social rules of society remains a struggle for autistics long after they grow up. For example, even though I am an almost 60-year-old woman with autism, over the past few years, I have learned a lot of new-to-me hidden curriculum items. The hidden curriculum refers to all the social information that everybody seems to know but isn’t directly taught to anybody. Here’s an example:
In the past few years I have had two encounters with the police while driving my car. The first time I pulled into a school parking lot, answered an email on my Blackberry, gathered my stuff together and let out a little scream, as I didn’t expect to see a police officer standing at my car door!