AUTISM SPECTRUM RESOURCES
(Autism Spectrum Education,
Research and Training) website
links to a dozen organizations
that support people on the autism
spectrum and their families. Visit
autism live meaningful lives and
supports them, their families and their
caregivers. Visit autismcalgary.com.
• Autism Edmonton offers support for
people on the autism spectrum, as
well as their families and caregivers.
autism advocacy organization,
promoting acceptance and
understanding of those with autism.
Learn more at autismspeaks.ca.
neurodiversity advocate, blogger
and author. Check out his ideas
accepts people for who
they are, not for how they look or
dress or their social skills. Learn
more at meetup.com/Calgary-Geek-Social-Club.
My hope is when another child finds themselves
on the same lonely path I have walked, they can
emerge from the dark much sooner than I did
its diagnosis and supports, the general
public is not.
Those with ASD, Robison says, “need
to find people who think like us—
whether we find that in engineering, at
science fiction conventions or comic book
conventions. And, ideally, we need to
find workplaces with people like us or
where people like us are welcomed.”
My son found a group of friends—
many working in technology fields—a
lot like him. Then he took his newfound
confidence (and diploma) to the
terrifying interaction of job interviews.
He gained even more confidence when
the interviewers (mostly engineers) were
more interested in his knowledge than
his social patter.
Kyle quickly found a job with a large
engineering firm and moved into his
first apartment with a Geek Club friend.
Three years later, he and his younger
brother bought a condo together.
Half of people with higher-functioning
ASD are still living with parents into
their 40s. U.S. studies show 15 to 20
per cent of homeless people have ASD
—including high-functioning autism.
For those without intellectual
challenges, ASD in adulthood comes
with the expectation of finding a job,
a place to live and starting a family,
says McCrimmon. But if they can’t
get a job and are dealing with mental
health issues, the other two are nearly
McCrimmon says adults with
Asperger’s have very specific skills that
can be used in a workplace but “the
challenges are all the social demands
at work. Most people don’t go to work
and just do a job. They go to work to do
a job and hang out and socialize with
co-workers. All those social demands
can really interfere with the work
environment if you have difficulty with
social interaction and then have anxiety
and depression as a result.”
While my son untangles workplace life
on a daily basis, he also tries to hurdle
the confusing maze of a relationship with
the opposite sex.
“Dating is a miserable quagmire of interpretation. If a date tells me she had fun, I have to guess between ‘I don’t
actually want to see you again, but I’m
being polite’ or ‘I enjoyed myself, but
don’t see you as a prospective mate’
or ‘let’s do more of this and see where
it goes.’” While my son sees no advantage to
his Asperger’s—and why would he?—I
am constantly amazed by his focus, his
persistence, through challenges that
would flatten many.
My son does not see, and so does
not engage in office politics. He takes
his company’s stated commitments
to its people at face value. The cynical
journalist in me may scoff at that, but
when a more senior employee constantly
verbally abused him and other junior
workers, Kyle filed an official complaint.
The company investigated and
suspended the employee.
And just as he used to take things
apart to see how they worked, hearing
that a process has “always been done
that way” is not an answer in his
professional life. He finds a better way,
saving the company time and money.
McCrimmon’s general advice to
parents receiving the ASD diagnosis
for their child rings so true to me: don’t
ignore the challenges, but see and
celebrate the positives. “Kids on the
spectrum are fun and cool and unique.
It’s why I continue to do the work I do.
It’s fun to see how they see the world
and interact, and to live in that space
for a while. They’ll tell you as they
There is no sugar-coating here. We
have celebrated so many of my son’s
victories, but this story can’t fully explore
the darkness of his own journey.
“My hope is that maybe, just maybe, when another child finds themselves on the same lonely path I
have walked, someone will learn, and
then they will know what to do, and
that child can emerge from the dark
much sooner than I did.” My beloved son is not only still
standing, he is thriving. And just as the
families of so many on the spectrum do,
we stand proudly with him. |a