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Brandi Pinsker, Project Genius, Talks about Autism at Work

Every May, while many parents are celebrating high school graduations and preparing to tearfully send their teens off to college, there is another group of parents tearfully welcoming their kids back home, to the sofa, to stare at their iPads. These kids have no social group, no work prospects, and definitely no college plans. They have autism.

I hear from the parents of these kids every May and my empathy for them runs deep because next year, I will join them. My son Eli, who has autism, will complete his last year of high school next May. Once those school doors shut, all opportunities for learning, being productive, and making social connections disappear. After high school there is nothing, and the word “nothing” being applied to your child’s future at the age of 18 is terrifying. I got a glimpse of this dilemma at the beginning of summer 2022 as I tried to plan for his 12-week summer vacation and was faced with a blank slate.

Like all parents, I imagined a bright future for my kid. Despite Eli’s diagnosis, I always assumed (naively) that we would find a program, a group, or an opportunity of some sort that would create a meaningful life for him as an adult. With enough intervention and support I assumed we would find a way for him to be productive and have a social group, even if it looked a little different than his peers. But it didn’t happen. READ MORE...

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