Can People with Autism Lead a Functional Life? Essay Example

Abstract

Today, a lot of children suffer from autism. As a result, many parents after their child is diagnosed with autism wonder what will become of their children. It is no wonder that the initial question in the minds of the parents after realizing that their child has autism is whether the child will be able to have a “normal” life. As of today, one in every 110 children across the globe is estimated to suffer from autism. Due to its now prevalent presence in the world, it has become very important for scholars and parents and researchers to understand whether this whole lot of children can have a functional life. The first known and documented case of autism was done1943 and was recorded in a medical journal that the article reported as “unlike anything reported so far.” In that case, Donald T was the case number 1 child given the autism diagnosis. Donald is now 77 years old and when John Donovan, a reporter from The Atlantic went to visit him found in the forest playing golf. The term “functional” has been coined to replace the word “normal” because there are many variations in each case of autism and therefore, it is almost impossible to determine how “normal” the life of a person is going to be. However, numerous studies and research are now revealing that no matter how “high functioning” and “low functioning” a person’s autism is there is increasing evidence that such children have hope for a functional life with supports and therapies.  This paper analyses autism by exploring whether a person with autism can lead a functional life as a teenager and as an adult.

Introduction

One of the initial questions asked by a parent after realizing that their child has autism is whether the child will be able to have a “normal” life. As of today, one in every 110 children across the globe is estimated to suffer from autism. Due to its now prevalent presence in the world, it has become very important for scholars and parents to understand whether this whole lot of children can have a functional life. This first case of autism was reported in 1943 in a medical journal that the article reported as “unlike anything reported so far.” In that case, Donald T was the case number 1 child given the autism diagnosis. Donald is now 77 years old and when John Donovan, a reporter from The Atlantic went to visit him found in the forest playing gold. The term “functional” has been coined to replace the word “normal” because there are many variations in each case of autism and therefore, it is almost impossible to determine how “normal” the life of a person is going to be. However, numerous studies and research are now revealing that no matter how “high functioning” and “low functioning” a person’s autism is there is increasing evidence that such children have hope for a functional life with supports and therapies.  This paper analyses autism by exploring whether a person with autism can lead a functional life as a teenager and as an adult.

Research Problem

With so many people now diagnosed as being autistic, the need is to now understand whether these people are capable of leading functional lives.

Hypothesis

With modern therapies and support people with autism are now able to live functional lives.

Literature Review

Gowen and Hamilton (2013) outline that more than previously thought possible, people suffering from autism are able to live as independent as possible as a result of modern therapies and supports (Gowen & Hamilton, 2013). The article further outlines that children can now go to the same classrooms with the other children and this raises the confidence and the coping capabilities of the autistic children. With the support now coming from all sides, under some special circumstances, a child can get intervention of specialists in order to reduce the degree any disruptive behavior that they may have through therapy.

Through the interventions through therapy, children can now more than ever before learn the essential academic skills such as math, writing and reading and be able to finish high school (Groden, Woodard & Kantor, 2012). It has been documented that some are now even going all the way and attain college degrees. There are programs now to help autistic adults comfortably live independent lives, be involved in community building and do meaningful work (Belkin, 2010). As a result, even the ones with cognitive challenges are able to live independently and be able to do house chores for themselves, such as working, dressing, cooking and shopping among others.

In the book Autism Spectrum Disorder in Mid and Later Life, Wright explains that the most important factor in helping a child reach their fullest potential is early intervention (Wright, 2012). When a child manages to get help early on in life, they are capable of getting the necessary intervention from family members and community support groups so that they can reach their fullest potential. Early intervention is necessary considering that now it is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of adults with autism that are living independently and are positively contributing to their community. She goes on to argue that a lot of people now in the workplace and in relationships have autism, but are now able to manage it and earn a living for themselves.

In a 2013 article, Claire Bates outlines that with early intervention, children born with “high functioning” autism can grow out of autism (Bates, 2013). The study outlined that these group of recovering children consist of children that tended to have mild forms of autistic symptoms and social difficulties. Later in life, with early intervention and support programs, these children showed no signs of difficulties in social interaction, face recognition, language or communication despite having been diagnosed with autism early in life. However, the researchers cautioned that the results relate only to a small number of people who were born with high functioning autism. For this group of autistic children, intensive therapy is able to make them grow out of autism, completely doing away with their difficulties in communication and interaction with other people, thereby making them lead fully functional lives.

However, Jennifer Van Pelt is a little optimistic about the functionality of life that adults suffering from autism are able to attain given that many therapies and support programs are oriented towards children with autism (Pelt, 2008). In her article “Autism into Adulthood-Making the Transition”, Pelt outlines that therapies and support structures are well organized for autistic children. However, she observes that there has been little enthusiasm to understand what happens when these children grow up. With very few support programs and therapies for adults, the autistic adults face challenges ranging from social relationships, employment and daily living. Pelt explains that it is not that the therapies are not there or that support programs do not exist, they have simply not been documented, researched or advertised as those attending to young adults. Her article outlines that local and state resources for teenagers and adults with autism range from social skills development, vocational training, long-term residential care and supervised day care. Due to these challenges, her article urges social work to specifically target this group in order to improve their physical stamina, personal relationships and regular employment expectations.

References

Bates, C. (2013, January 15). Children can GROW OUT of autism: Controversial research suggests not all youngsters have the same fate. Daily Mail.

Belkin, L. (2010, September 15). When Autistic Children Become Adults. The New York Times.

Gowen, E., & Hamilton, A. (2013). Motor abilities in autism: a review using a computational context. Journal Of Autism And Developmental Disorders, (2), 323. doi:10.1007/sl0803-012-1574-0

Groden, J., Woodard, C., & Kantor, A. (2012). How Everyone on the Autism Spectrum, Young and Old, Can… : Become Resilient, Be More Optimistic, Enjoy Humor, Be Kind, and Increase Self-Efficacy – A Positive Psychology Approach. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

 Pelt, J. V. (2008). Autism Into Adulthood — Making the Transition. Social Work Today, 8(5), 12.

Wright, S. D. (2016). Autism Spectrum Disorder in Mid and Later Life. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

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