Embracing Neurodiversity and Finding Help for Young Adults with High Functioning AutismApril 29, 2019
Many high schools may provide college prep resources, but do not provide adequate transition planning help for young adults with high functioning autism. While they may have been successful in high school, many young adults struggle with questioning: Where do I go from here? How am I supposed to get there? Who is going to help me now? Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that every individual has a different range of needs and abilities, so therapeutic options must be individualized as well.
Difficulties with Transition
In high school, students may receive accommodations to create safe environments that will help them better process the curriculum, however; students do not learn the soft social skills that will help them transition into adulthood. They may have relied on their parents and teachers to meet their needs and struggled to recognize their own strengths and develop their own coping skills that would prepare them for independent living.
Young adults with high-functioning autism may struggle with
- Adjusting to new environments
- Working in groups
- Trouble keeping up in conversations
- Being overwhelmed easily
- Branching out from restricted and repetitive interests
- Flexibility around their routines
- Making independent decisions and understanding the consequences of their actions
- Difficulty setting personal short-term and long-term goals
- Hopelessness about the future
Employers understand that diversity in age, gender, and cultural background are beneficial to the workplace, however, they are beginning to see how neurodiversity can be a competitive advantage as well. People on the spectrum have a different way of seeing and understanding the world. When they begin to see their differences as strengths, they can use them to their advantage to have successful careers. For example, people with high-functioning autism are more likely to be passionate about a specific subject, have a strong and focused work ethic, and thrive off of structured routines and finding out answers. Building self-esteem and self-determination can help individuals embrace their neurodiversity.
How Trails Momentum Can Help Young Adults with High Functioning Autism
Teaches students to live simply. People on the spectrum may benefit from the routine of wilderness therapy and freedom from distractions. Living simply and mindfully can be helpful for people struggling with sensory processing issues, organizational skills, and building greater self-awareness. Our slow-paced environment allows for a greater sense of comfort and competence.
Builds communication skills. We empower students by giving them the tools they need to understand their needs and strengths and to share them with others. We encourage students to process their experiences in individual therapy, group therapy, and through self-reflection using nonviolent communication and emotion regulation skills.
Increases social support. While every student’s therapeutic plan is individualized, students participate in group therapy and work together as a team in adventure activities, which helps them build intimacy and empathy with others. Many of our students struggle with social interactions and social withdrawal, however; a wilderness model teaches them how to be interdependent.
Adventure Therapy. At Trails Momentum, we offer a variety of wilderness-based adventure opportunities, such as hiking, backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking, rafting, rock climbing, fly fishing, and primitive skills. We believe exposure to these activities can help students find healthy activities they are passionate about, but they also serve as lessons on teamwork, leadership, and confidence.
Trails Momentum is a wilderness therapy program for young adults struggling with the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Many of our students struggle with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, low self esteem, and high-functioning autism that have impacted their ability to move forward in setting and achieving their goals. This program uses adventure-based therapy to foster the development and improvement of independence, self-confidence, and self-awareness. We believe that life begins outside your comfort zone in finding safe and peaceful environments that allow our students to focus on themselves and address their behaviors and how they impact the world around them. Trails Momentum gives young adults the skills they need to lead healthy, happy, independent and successful lives.