Working with young adults with autism. advice?

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Mods, if this is in the wrong forum or there is too much information feel free to move this to a more appropriate forum or simply delete.

I have been given the chance to work one on one with a young adult with autism. The level of social impairment doesn’t seem too great and from what I have been told seems similar to mild autism or even Asperger. The person can function normally it’s just that they have difficulties getting themselves organized and dealing with social events. The main function of the program I am in is for me to act as an assistant to that person by teaching them simple life skills like how to do laundry, clean their room, make snacks, navigate public transportation and interact with others.

The reason I am asking for help is that I have no experience in dealing with autism and I am wondering if there is any advice or information I can access through books or websites that can give me a better understanding of young adult to adult autism and how I can help them. Also if you have any experience with autism in young adults feel free to share.

On another note there seems to be ton of information on child autism but not a whole lot on adult autism or at least not as much compared to autism in young children? Is there a reason for that?

I am very excited about this opportunity as it is the first real clinical exposure I have ever had. At the same time I am nervous, not because the person has autism but because I have no experience and I am afraid I may do something wrong which may negatively impacts them.

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There are a number of good resources available. I would suggest reading Oliver Sacks’ article “An Anthropologist from Mars,” and the novel "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime," by Mark Haddon, as well as visiting the following sites for information:

I have an adult cousin (early 20's) with asperger's and have worked with several teenagers and children in the spectrum as well in behavioral treatment programs. Socially things will likely always be a little "off" when this person is meeting other people, and part of the battle will be finding people who are understanding to help him/her gain confidence in social settings. Many of the parents who's kids I have worked with have really found great success bringing their kids out into a wide variety of places (museums, zoos, malls, restaurants, etc.) to sort of force the kid to figure out how to behave in public settings (despite how awful and uncomfortable for the parents (and the kid!) it was the first few times it was to bring the child there because the kid had no clue how to act in the situation). I imagine that would be helpful with teens and adults as well. (basically repeating situations until the person your working with becomes more and more comfortable). It's really easy to want to keep a person with autism in their house because of the how much anxiety (for both caretaker and the person with autism) is associated with going places that may be over-stimulating.

Overall, I think the most useful thing is to gain trust with the person your working with. Most of the people with autism that I have worked with have had an intense interest in something pretty random (fresh water fish, super mario brothers, physics, etc). Letting them explain to you some of the things they find interesting will help engage them in conversation and you'll get a better understanding of his/her thought process (which might be particularly useful for you since you don't have any experience with autism). Ultimately this help you figure out what will be the best way to help them learn the skills you plan on working on.

I hope this was a slightly helpful. I've found that every person with autism that I've worked with I've had to take a slightly different approach with based upon the ways I could find to engage them, so it will likely be a matter of trial and error. if you have any specific questions I'd be happy to try and help you out.