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Beyond autism awareness: Preparing for the future

Jessica Watson is a mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart. She lives in Michigan where her life is as unpredictable as the weather. After the loss of her infant daughter in 2007, Jessica left the corporate world behind, vowe...

The next generation of autism

Autism rates began to rise almost 20 years ago, which puts us at the beginning of a boom in teens and adults with autism heading out into the world. What's next for these great kids — and are we prepared?
Teen with autism
Coming of age

The next generation of autism

Autism rates began to rise almost 20 years ago which puts us at the beginning of a boom in teens and adults with autism heading out into the world. What's next for these great kids — and are we prepared?

The mid-1990s saw the beginning of the rise in children with autism, the boom continued and here we are today, with rates at 1 in 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That means right about now we will begin seeing more and more of these children with autism becoming adults. Although society rushed to find the appropriate services for kids with autism, there has not been as much time dedicated to what's next. There's so much to think about and so much for parents to hope for.

Careers and job opportunities

People with autism are intelligent individuals and deserve the chance to find meaningful jobs that interest them. A little support from an understanding employer can go a long way. The range of abilities of people on the autism spectrum makes finding careers a challenge, but there is so much potential.

Roger, a 14-year-old with autism, has big plans. "I will get my advanced high school diploma. I want to go to MIT. They not only have programs in computer programming but Japanese too. After I am done with college I will move to Japan and become a video game creator." His mom, Pam, from the blog No Guile. agrees. "Yep, he will do it all; whatever he wants he will do. Mom just needs to find the money for MIT."

Learn about the signs of autism and everyday life with an autistic child.

Quality of life

Finding the right friends can be tough for many teens, but it is even more difficult for those with autism because of the difficulties they have with social skills. Connecting their child with someone who is able to share their interests is a dream many parents have.

"I hope that my daughter can lead a fulfilling life where she has one or two good friends, does something she loves and is happy," shares Becky from Defining "Normal."

Leigh of Flappiness Is wishes for nothing but happiness for her son. "I want him to be capable of pursuing his own interests, whether he is self-sufficient or needs supports. I hope that his sensory and behavioral issues ease as he grows older and that he experiences the joy of learning. I hope he remains as happy as he is now."

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Individuals with autism have so much potential; they just need people cheering them on to find it. Kelly of Piece Love Autism and mom to Grace, says it best. "To see Grace achieve and do something that makes her happy is my hope, and if she makes a good living with it, that's just an added plus. On her scale of potential, I want her to reach 'her' full potential — not society's, hers. My Grace marches to the beat of her own drum, and to see her drum get louder and stronger in her future will be more than enough for me."

More about autism:

Celebrities with autistic children
No more Asperger's: What it means for your child
Parenting and autism: Jessica's story

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