web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



A Life with Autism


Between 1997 and 2008, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) increased almost fourfold, according to the National Health Interview survey. The 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health indicated that 1.1 percent of all children born in this country are on the autism spectrum.

The number of children diagnosed with ASD who will grow to adulthood over the next 10 to 15 years numbers in the millions. This raises an obvious question. Once they age out of the services mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, can these individuals be absorbed into mainstream society and the labor market, and if so, how?

There are some individuals, such as Temple Grandin, who were diagnosed with autism as children and then found ways to make valuable contributions in their specific fields (in Grandin’s case, animal management for the livestock industry). Dr. Stephen Shore is another example. He is a 51-year-old adult with autism who is an assistant professor of Special Education at Adelphi University.

They serve as inspirational role models and sources of hope for the parents of today’s children with autism. But they are also the rare exceptions rather than the rule. They were products of an unusual combination of strong parental support, expert training and education, as well as extraordinary personal perseverance. Their experiences cannot be duplicated on a scale to match the needs of the tidal wave of children with autism who will be coming of age in a few years, and certainly not with the techniques, infrastructure and resources available today.

According to Dr. Shore, the key to successfully mainstreaming individuals with autism is to accept them for who they are. Rather than trying to eliminate or ignore their autistic characteristics, we should help them to make the necessary adaptations to enable them to function successfully, in much the same way that a nearsighted individual does when he puts on a pair of glasses. Employers in particular need to understand that these individuals can function productively in their workplace, “by shifting the emphasis from focusing on their deficits to using their strengths.”

Today, about 90% of adults on the autism spectrum in this country are unemployed or underemployed, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. In coming years, the numbers of people with autism aging out of grade school will double, and then double again. We will need to find constructive ways to help them utilize the skills and abilities that they do have, instead of focusing on their autistic behavioral patterns or lack of social skills which can be easily accommodated in the workplace, but only if there is truly a desire by management to do so.

Obviously, we are not talking about those individuals who are so profoundly affected by autism that they cannot communicate or function with others effectively. But it is both possible and necessary for us as a society to provide opportunities for the gainful employment and social acceptance of higher functioning individuals on the autism spectrum. This will significantly enhance their happiness and self-esteem, and benefit society as a whole, by turning them into productive citizens instead of lifelong burdens.

Many of these individuals can do much more than bag groceries, re-stock shelves or do other menial jobs, which is often the only type of work available to them today. Employers need to understand that many of these individuals have valuable skills, some directly related to their autism, making them particularly well-suited for certain types of productive work.

For example, an article published by the New York Times in January, 2010, described the unique contribution made for more than 50 years by George Kramer, then 71, to a small hardware store in Flatbush which still bore the Kramer name.

George had severe behavioral problem as a child, but his parents rejected the advice of doctors at the time who called him “mentally retarded” and recommended that he be placed in an institution such as the notorious Willowbrook State School in Staten Island. Instead, George’s parents kept him at home and put him to work doing chores in his father’s hardware store.

Over the years, George proved to be not only capable, but indispensable to the store’s operation. He was always scrupulously honest and reliable in performing his daily duties, which expanded to include handling incoming phone calls to the store, preparing it for the start of business each morning and closing it securely every night.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Life with Autism”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arabs burn tires in Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Arab Violence in Jerusalem Forces Police to Return Law and Order
Latest Sections Stories

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

Social disabilities occur at many levels, but experts identify three different areas of learning and behavior that are most common for children who struggle to create lasting social connections.

Sukkot is an eternal time of joy, and if we are worthy, of plenty.

Two of our brothers, Jonathan Pollard and Alan Gross, sit in the pit of captivity. We have a mandate to see that they are freed.

Chabad of South Broward has 15 Chabad Houses in ten cities.

Victor Center works in partnership with healthcare professionals, clergy, and the community to sponsor education programs and college campus out reach.

So just in case you’re stuck in the house this Chol HaMoed – because there’s a new baby or because someone has a cold – not because of anything worse, here are six ideas for family fun at home.

We are told that someone who says that God’s mercy extends to a bird’s nest should be silenced.

More Articles from Yaakov Kornreich
Vaccinations-Oct-2013

American society as a whole has accepted the view of the medical establishment that childhood vaccinations are both safe and necessary to protect the health of our children. But there are parents who accept the views disseminated over the Internet and social media by a small but vocal minority of doctors and researchers who claim that current vaccines, and the way in which they are administered, present significant risks to the health of very young children.

Between 1997 and 2008, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) increased almost fourfold, according to the National Health Interview survey. The 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health indicated that 1.1 percent of all children born in this country are on the autism spectrum.

By 2015, 46 million Americans will be over the age of 65. As members of the baby boomer generation pass the traditional retirement age, our standards for aging are steadily changing.

One of today’s fastest growing new dietary trends is the proliferation of foods labeled “gluten free” on the shelves of supermarkets across the country.

What does an elected official in his fifties have in common with a young Chassidic father, a young mother who works as a freelance copy editor, and a 21-month old infant? All four individuals, from very different backgrounds and walks of life, suffered a stroke which robbed them of some of their previous abilities, and prompted an individualized recovery process which is likely to last for the rest of their lives.

We have all been raised in a culture which we are taught to believe in the “miracles of modern medicine.”

For many years, autism was considered to be a rare, mysterious and severely disabling condition. But in recent years, due at least in part to a broadening of its medical definition, the incidence of the diagnosis of autism and related disorders has risen to about 1 in every 150 babies born in this country.

What was the biggest single donation to Tzedaka (charity) or greatest act of Chesed (personal kindness) in your life? How much of a difference did it really make? Did it change a life? Did it save a life? How do you know for sure?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/health/a-life-with-autism-2/2013/04/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: