In the middle of September Peyton will turn 18! As with all my kids this birthday is a big deal. The 18th birthday is a beginning in many ways, of a new chapter in our lives. In most states you are considered an adult. I remember when each of my older kids turned 18 , I was happy and sad at the same time. I knew they were “grown up”, at least in the eyes of society. At the same time, I was sad that they were soon going to be on their own! I turned 18 while I was in college and remember thinking it was so awesome! While I am excited for Peyton, it also very much stresses me. I know he is aware that 18 means becoming “an adult” but he also realizes that he is limited somewhat as to what he will be doing, after he is 18.
Peyton like many autistic teens faces many obstacles, as he faces adulthood. According to a study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis in 2012,unemployment and underemployment rates for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (or ASD, that is, they show up somewhere on the Autism spectrum) is at 90%. It is estimated that 1.5 million people in the US have ASD and about 80% of them are under age 22. Moneyish ran an article April 10, 2017 stating “There will be 500,000 adults on the autism spectrum aging into adulthood over the next 10 years. Yet a whopping 85% of college grads affected by autism are unemployed, compared to the national unemployment rate of 4.5%” These are staggering numbers and to be honest, are very upsetting to me.
I started blogging almost two years ago and have come to realized so many issues that need to be addressed within the autism community. This one by far has me the most upset. As someone said to me other day, this is beyond comprehension that this issue isn’t given more attention. Many times these types of issues, when brought to others attention can find solutions or at least help try to find solutions. As someone who worked in grassroots for many years, I always like to try to connect directly with people. That’s exactly what we are planning to do starting in August! Mark, Peyton and I are going to go on an “Awesome Autism Adventure to turn Autism into Awesomism” we are going to put faces to stories..raising awareness to the unemployment rate that so many are dealing with….but don’t be mistaken, our journey is also to try to find solutions. We will be Travelling the Country, meeting people, talking about the issues and letting others know! We will be weaving together others’ life stories and building a beautiful “quilt” We will be blogging, periscoping , video taping and more as we travel and meet so many awesome people along the way! We would LOVE to have you get involved! I am a firm believer in a unified team approach. Together we can do awesome things! Please reach out and connect with us on how we can support each other on this Awesomism Journey. We would love to connect with you as we take our Awesomism to the Road!