I'm worried about my sister's adult life

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I'm worried about my sister's adult life

Postby bethspring » Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:53 pm

My sister has been diagnosed with autism from a young age, after years of improper treatment for depression via medication and OT. Maybe 2nd or 3rd grade was when the diagnosis was finally made. Growing up, she struggled a lot, but after moving to a specialized school, followed by boarding at Franklin Academy, she's beginning to develop and thrive. She is currently doing the College Living Experience in a major city, and she's having a good time with friends from high school.

My concern right now is the future. She's applying to SCAD (loves computer graphic design and animation), and has dreams of being an animator for Disney or the like. I worry that her fear and anxiety will hold her back. Of course, I never say such things to her, but my parents worry all the time that her ability to function in society will forever be limited. She is on the lower end of high-functioning Autism, she is verbal and can reasonably make eye contact, but it's clear from the way she carries herself with a heavy slouch, from her tics, and from her general demeanor that there is something unusual about her.

She's immersed in the internet, to an extent that I would probably be surprised by, and spends much of her time alone. She makes plans with friends from high school sometimes, but mostly sits alone in her apartment. She has decent grades, as she panics with every deadline and is sure to complete all assignments, and she is talented at computer art.

I am wondering what her future might look like. She wants to go to SCAD, but I worry that there might be a lack of resources for some one who struggles as much as she does with social interaction, building relationships with new people, and her tendency toward minor outbursts when stressed. On paper, she seems to be doing great, but she seems depressed, and like she just wants to be at home, where my mother provides nurturing and care and she has her comfort blanket of home.

Part of me wants to just let her live with me for life and help her with everything, but of course that is not helpful for anyone. I worry that she won't have anything familiar when she moves, she'll be further isolated, and her existing friendships will suffer. SCAD has a lot of very talented people that will intimidate her and send her anxiety through the roof. She is talented herself, but she compares herself to people constantly. She is overweight (a problem that no one else in my family has, unfortunately), extremely self-conscious, and has recently told me that she believes she is bisexual but is afraid that our parents will be upset with her for this (they won't, but she hears the things they say about sexuality and takes it to heart).

Does anyone know of any further resources for her to set her sights on or any other input on autism in adulthood? I've read about job fields with animators for people with her diagnosis, and I'd love to have something encouraging for her to focus on so that she focuses less on how she is less-than. She's very cynical, and it hurts her all the time.

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Re: I'm worried about my sister's adult life

Postby Santosg » Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:09 pm

Hi Beth,

I dabble in animation--just a bit, nothing serious and nothing professional. It my opinion it is probably not worth the money to get a full degree in animation. It just leaves you with a lot of debt. If your parents are financing it, I still think it is better to use the additional resources to simply invest in more training. I think that getting a certificate in animation from a few of the well regarded online programs is not a bad way to go--and if I were to pursue animation professionally, it is what I would do. AnimationMentor and iAnimate are well regarded programs in the field. In the end it is the collection of animations--their quality--that gets you the job. So, forget about the school and just concentrate on building skills in specific platforms, such as Maya, etc.

Animation today is done mostly with computers and a lot of the networking is actually done online. So, I suggest that she start connecting with people in the field in prominent forums. She can build up a network of friends even if she's shy in real life. These actually provide great contacts, provided you regularly visit the forums, participate in debates, and also help other people develop their skills. Don't let it consume her life but be sure that her investments in social media are actually something she can translate into contacts in real life.

Just from a quick google search, I've found a bunch of resources related to autism and animation. I suggest she also begin to contact these organizations. They will help her professional development. For instance, this would definitely be an individual worth contacting or serving as a sort of role model: http://sparkaction.org/content/employin ... -animation
This is a great program and would be able to help point you in the right direction:

In terms of her sexuality, I certainly am no authority on the matter but I would take it with a grain of salt. I think that she feels a very deep desire to connect with someone, to love and be loved. As such, she's willing to find love where she can....Sometimes the search for love and validation can be so great that we confuse ourselves. That's not to dismiss the fact that she could be bisexual or should be seen as a negative comment on LGBT individuals, but it is worth at least pointing out. So I think this is more a question of her own mental state and frustration than an expression of her own sexual preferences.

I'm assuming that you're also a girl. If I were you, I'd really spend a lot of time just trying to get her a few dates and a boyfriend. Honestly, it should not be that hard for her. Any girl in their 20s can have a boyfriend--maybe not the one they truly desires--but still...Something to give her experience with the opposite sex and just give her a bit of confidence. Avoid having her 'fall in love' with someone after 2 days together--which could probably be what she will reflectively do......but that's a topic to complicated for this......

If you are worried about her future, and it is great that you are, I think the last thing you want to do is provide her a safe shelter and safety net. There is a fundamental law in the world: if you want to eat you need to hunt. If you never are forced to hunt you never develop the mindset, confidence, and skill set to every be your own person. So, more and more responsibility needs to be transferred to her. Bills, deadlines, etc. You are to provide encouragement and support, but that support is only a support towards her own independence.

Depression, as is comely stated, is about the inability to see the future. There is no better definition for it. Paint a vision of a future that she can create for herself, help her believe in herself, and give her the kick in the pants to make sure she does it.

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