Once-Neglected Autistic Adults Win Attention

By Wills, Rick | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

Once-Neglected Autistic Adults Win Attention


Wills, Rick, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Elliott Frank does not worry about his son Nathan's ability to handle college course work.

"He's got the intellect to do that," Frank, a Detroit native who lives in Franklin Park, said about his autistic son, who is 15 and a freshman at North Allegheny High School. Nathan Frank aspires to be an aviation historian.

What does concern Elliott Frank and other parents of autistic children is their children's ability to adapt to many of the social aspects of college -- such as making friends, being organized and handling anxiety.

Adult autism was the subject Saturday of a meeting that featured educators, employers and those afflicted with autism.

"The focus with autism is on small children, diagnosing them early and getting them through school. When they get out of school, people with autism are usually neglected," said Carolyn Komich Hare, the founder of AHEADD -- Achieving in Higher Education with Autism/ Developmental Disabilities, a Pittsburgh-based national group she founded seven years ago.

One of 150 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism. Yet, nearly all government funding for autism is directed toward secondary school-age children, she said.

"That is starting to change. In the next three to four years, many autistic kids will be finishing school and will need help with the transition to work or higher education," said Komich Hare, a one- time special education teacher the mother of an autistic child. …

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