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Teens and Young Adults with Autism: Self-Discovery

Think about when you graduated from high school and went to college, trade school, or went right into the workplace. How many times did you ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to do?” I remember questioning, and then ultimately changing my major during my sophomore year of college. It happens. We all go through an intense period of self-discovery and ask questions such as, “Who am I?” “What do I want to be?” or “What is my why?” How can you help a loved one with self-discovery?


For a young adult with autism, it can be even more overwhelming once they exit the commonalities of 12 years of schooling. Everything familiar to them is not only wiped away after graduation day and the transition can really take its toll on the emotional well-being of someone on the spectrum. One thing you can do as a parent is to prepare your child long before any transition to another “chapter” in life, such as switching to a higher school or college. Months before the transition is to be made, begin talking to them about the future and what their new school will be like. You can even take them on a visit and walk around their new environment, thus allowing your child get a feel of the sights and sounds of their future daily routine.


If your child has a love for videos on YouTube, like mine does, then you can show short videos of different careers. You can also take what you know they enjoy doing, and find careers in that field. My son has a gift for drawing. His diagrams are incredible. He is currently studying drafting and design and the local community college and is doing phenomenally well. Begin these discussions early; this is imperative so the teen doesn’t get too anxious and overwhelmed. Discussions can happen in the home or with the help of a career counselor, an educator, or even a therapist.

Alternatives to College

A young adult does not need to go to college or university to be successful. Perhaps they enjoy farming, car detailing, mechanics, or other jobs that are not necessarily university requirements? Trade school or helping with the family business is perfectly fine, and may be the perfect match for your loved one. Whatever your teen’s strengths are, go with that! Build on those strengths, because if he enjoys doing something, then he can make a living out of it!

Every person is worthy of finding the life they want and deserve, no matter what. Not only are there jobs and colleges outside of that graduation date, but there are adult living programs that can assist your child in finding the way to a successful future. Take a look at Tyler’s video on self-discovery, and you may be inspired by his words on that seemingly scary transition from the world of structured routine in school to the world of the “unknown”.


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