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An Initiative of National Trust
for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy,
Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India
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Adults with Autism- on how to address the concerns:

Parents and caregivers want their children to be happy and healthy, lead fulfilling lives, and grow into happy adults. All individuals with Autism, regardless of the level of support needed, should be able to live lives that are filled with dignity, choice and happiness. Becoming an adult is a gradual process. It is not an event that occurs suddenly. It is a journey with peaks and valleys. Every family hopes that the destination of this journey will be a fulfilling adult life for their son or daughter. When, where and how to plan for the future as an adult will be unique to each individual and based on their individual needs and desires and unique strengths and challenges. As children approach adulthood parents often get concerned about what will happen when they are no longer there, whether their children will have the skills to live independently in the community, what help they would need in this, and whether this help would be available or not. Individuals with Autism span a very wide spectrum of abilities and needs. While some will have complex needs and require extensive support all their lives, there would be others like Nobel Prize winner Vernon L Smith, policy adviser and author Emran Mian, Professor Stephen Shore, IT Designer and self advocate Qazi Fazli Azeem, self advocate and autistic White House appointee on the US National Council on Disability Ari Ne'eman, Oz psychologist Wendy Lawson, self advocate Achyutanal Guha and the most well known of them all Psychologist and cattle handling machinery designer Temple Grandin.

There is currently no reliable measure to determine how severely a child may or may not be affected and no way to predict or make a generalization about how any individual child will grow and progress. A number of factors determine how a child responds to a treatment program. These include the child's age at the time of diagnosis and initial intervention, how Autism affects the individual child, how well tailored the intervention is to the child's needs, and so on. With appropriate intervention and teaching all children on the spectrum can show significant progress-even children with severe delays and exceptionally unusual behaviours. There is no child for whom treatment is 'not worth the effort.' Individuals with Autism can continue to master skills into their 30s and 40s.

As they age and mature, individuals can overcome many of their communication and social challenges and master various coping strategies. However some social and communication challenges that is core to the condition remain. These impact and determine the choice of further education, work and employment, and living options in adulthood.

While it is important to start planning for the future as early as possible, it is never too late to start. The worst thing to do is nothing! It is important to plan ahead; having a plan for the future can lead to a quality of life as an adult.

Higher Education As their schooling comes to close, individuals with Autism and their parents will have to start exploring work options while a few may want to pursue further studies. For those individuals with ASD who have a goal of pursuing a college education it is important to find a good match for their strengths, interests and any support that they may need when choosing a college or technical career program

Some of the key points to consider when choosing a college are:
  • Finding out what types of colleges are a match for the individual's interests and skills.
  • Determining whether the individual will need support while attending college, and finding out what support if any is available
  • Deciding whether to disclose disability when applying to the college
  • Deciding what size of college would feel the most comfortable
The transition to a post school education setting means having more and different responsibilities than in high school. Students with Autism often face challenges in college with learning how to act in classes, how to manage their course load and how to manage social relationships that are unique to the college experience. Students need to be supported with as much information as possible ahead of time about their new responsibilities and the new settings. (Thompson Center for Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorders, University of Missouri)


There are adults with Autism who work in full-time open employment charting their career paths while competing in the open market - or are self-employed - with no support. These include government policy advisers, authors, economists, heads of government and professors. But the numbers of these are small. Many more will be in partly-sheltered placements in offices, factories and shops where the jobs they hold in the community are tailored to their strengths, such as those increasingly available in the IT-sector, with some amount of support provided to the adults working there. These numbers too would be quite small. According to the report of the National Audit Office UK, only 15 per cent of people with Autism are in full time employment, despite the fact that many people with Autism have valuable skills to offer prospective employers, for example attention to detail, concentration and mathematical aptitude. In some other developed countries the number is around 6% only.

In India as already stated, the number would be far less. Some firms, such as BT in the UK and Specialisterne in Denmark, SAP in India and Germany, and Orange in the US have pro-actively recruited people with Autism as part of their diversity policy, by creating an appropriate package of mentoring and reasonable adjustments to support these staff.

With the current state of educational and support services available, the vast majority of adults with Autism will be in fully sheltered workplaces more commonly referred to as vocational centres. A vocational centre provides a range of work opportunities that are tailored to the needs of each individual. Such centres typically provide structure and predictability that promote independent functioning for an enhanced and successful, as well as dignified work experience. Vocational centres may be run by governments but in most cases in India are run by NGOs. Sheltered workplaces in vocational centres can provide structured employment to individuals who need different levels of high support

For long it was believed that only those in sheltered work places require training in job-skills and work behaviours. As understanding grows of the complex social communication challenges that individuals with Autism face, it is now increasingly acknowledged that most individuals on the spectrum benefit with training in job-skills and work behaviours, in the soft skills of basic interpersonal relationships with coworkers such as learning to recognize their moods or emotions, learning the hidden rules of social behaviours, and understanding the importance of punctuality, privacy, and hygiene. This in particular enables many in open employment to retain their positions and have a more fulfilling work experience.

However, training and support are needed not just for the individuals with ASD, but also for their employers and colleagues. Studies suggest that people with Autism find lack of understanding of Autism amongst employers a significant barrier to work. Sensitisation and on-site employer and staff training when a person with Autism starts work at an organisation, is a crucial step to building understanding of disability and providing opportunities.

Case Study:

Yusef, a young man who has Autism, started the Work Preparation programme at Prospects (NAS, UK) in November 2007. Yusef has an inability to fully understand the social situation in which he finds himself, which can lead to him acting inappropriately or talking excessively about one subject. To find Yusef a job, a Prospects advisor worked with him to put strategies in place to improve his communication and concentration. As a result of the programme with Prospects, Yusef secured employment w0ithin a major library as a stamping and labelling assistant.

Yusef's new colleagues also needed training in order for them to understand his way of working. This training included setting boundaries and rules for him in his work and during conversations. For example, his colleagues learned to tell him, pleasantly but clearly, when it was time to stop talking and get back to work. The support that Yusef received was very effective. He has now settled down into his job, and his colleagues have reported that they have found the training to be beneficial for both him and them. Yusef is now an established member of the team, and with support from Prospects he is expected to continue to do well within the role.

Source: National Audit Office/National Autistic Society 'Prospects' Service

Assisted Living:

In the traditional Indian joint family, with grown up children and three or four generations living in the same house, when the person with Autism becomes an adult she or he is expected to continue living with the parents. However with changing structures in family settings. as parents age they are faced with the concern of what would happen to the individual with Autism when they are not there. India does not yet have the kind of social security that ensures that the state steps in when there is no one to address the needs of the vulnerable adult with Autism. This sector is largely the domain of NGOs and parent organisations.

There is no study to indicate what happens to persons with Autism, especially those with very high support needs after the parents are gone. As with work and employment, similarly as parents age and pass on living options for adults have to be across a continuum of needs and services and will include the following options.

There will be individuals who will live independently, manage a job or career, house, finance, and if they wish will perhaps marry and have children. However the numbers who could do this are small. Most others will need a range of supported living options that will provide them with access to opportunities for work as well as a satisfying social life so that they are enabled to live a life of dignity. One option would be group-homes in the community where small groups of adults live in a 'home' atmosphere, manage the house, go out to work and so on, with support. Another option would be to have a larger number of individuals, say 30 or 50 all live together in a house. The choice would often be finance-driven.

There are other options along this continuum, each with their positives and negatives.

Assisted living options for individuals with Autism is a still evolving concept in India. The fact that most individuals with Autism have very high support needs throws up the greatest challenge in creating assisted living options. :

The National Trust endeavoursÂ…
The National Trust endeavours to address these issues and would like you to come forward and join hands in bridging these gaps. Click here to read more on schemes of National Trust.


Ohio Autism Task Force & Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence Transition to Community Task Force
National Autistic Society, Think Differently, Act Positively - Public Perceptions of Autism (2008)
NAO Report, Benefits and employment support schemes to meet the needs of people with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Thompson Center for Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorders, University of Missouri

ARUNIM: Creating opportunities for people with moderate to severe disabilities, where none exist.

ARUNIM (Association for Rehabilitation Under National Trust Initiative of Marketing) is a path-breaking initiative of the National Trust, a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

At ARUNIM we strive towards creating opportunities for people with moderate to severe disabilities, where none exist. In order to live with dignity people need to have a certain degree of independence and this independence stems from economic empowerment.

Unfortunately, due to various social and psychological barriers open placement opportunities are practically non-existent in our country. Although great progress is being made towards creating an environment of equal opportunities for people with different abilities, it will take time. This gap is being filled by ARUNIM.

We are an independent marketing federation that aims to get at least minimum wages for persons with disabilities employed in sheltered/supported work environments. We follow an entrepreneurial approach to ensure that persons with disabilities can actively participate in the global economic growth and consequently, gain at least some level of financial independence. Through creating capacity building partnerships we give shape to viable business ideas that turn people standing at the fringes of the society into vibrant stakeholders.

  Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD is commonly called Autism Neuro- typical: A term used for people who do not have Autism or ASD  
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