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 Granville, Ohio

By Associated Press

Jul 14 2010

COLUMBUS

Her resume attracted plenty of attention.

Hospitals, technology companies and a major research organization indicated that Chelsea Ridenour — computer and math whiz, summa cum laude graduate of Capital University — looked good on paper. Some called for interviews.

And then, suddenly, it didn’t seem to matter that she is intelligent and dependable and tenacious. Ridenour can communicate with a computer in six languages, but she can’t chat her way through a face-to-face meeting with a stranger.

”People try to be nice. They’re not deliberately not nice,” the Hilliard resident said. ”They just don’t understand.”

Ridenour is among a rising population of young adults whose coming-of-age stories are at best complicated and oftentimes heartbreaking. They are grown-ups with Asperger’s syndrome and other autism disorders, conditions that society seems to handle best when boys and girls are young and in school.

But Ridenour is 23. What she needs is a job.

”My pitch always has been, ‘There’s a buyer for every house. Why don’t we find the buyers for these kids who want to work?”’ said Tom Fish of the Ohio State University Nisonger Center, a support and research institute for people with developmental disabilities.

”The challenge with people on the (autism) spectrum, of course, is social interaction,” he said. ”People look at these kids and say, ‘Be more social.’ Well, they can’t.”

Many young people with Asperger’s syndrome, or ”high-functioning” forms of autism, emerge from years of struggle, bullying and isolation in high school only to find that the adult world can be even more difficult. According to the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, national studies have found that only 6 percent to 14 percent of adults with autism are competitively employed.

Yet many possess normal — and in a lot of cases, superior — intellectual abilities.

Read in Full:  http://www.sanduskyregister.com/jobs/2010/jul/14/autistic-adults-ohio-have-hard-time-finding-work



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