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Worrying About the Future


Worrying About the Future.

Ryan said to me recently. "Childhood gave me Autism. My teens gave me cancer. What will adulthood bring?" Big worries for someone so young. So much pressure and conditioning are placed upon us about the importance of education and the set path that the majority of us will take through the system to university and/or the job market. What happens if you do not follow that path or miss so much education that the path is no longer open to you. How do you plan for the future? What options are there available to you? Ryan was excluded from his primary school in year 2 and I home schooled him for a year while we worked with the Educational Psychologist to find a placement that would suit his complex needs at the time. Due to his speech, language and communication difficulties the decision was made to withdraw him from Welsh-medium education and focus on English only which meant our choices were limited in the area of Wales that we call home. We finally found Ryan a place a wonderful English medium school 10 miles from home where he attended part-time, to begin with as he and I got used to the new routine and having two young boys in separate primary schools, that was difficult but we didn’t want to upset Owen who was settled and thriving. Eventually, Ryan settled well into his new primary school, made a couple of friends and by all accounts began to thrive. There were ups and downs but overall the school were excellent in their support. The move up to Secondary school was well planned with lots of transition days and preparing Ryan with social stories. Ryan settled so well that he was looking forward to choosing his GCSE options in year 9 and concentrating on the subjects he enjoyed. This choice was cruelly snatched away from him during the Summer holiday break before he was due to begin year 10 and his crucial GCSE years of education. On 26 August we received the gut-wrenching cancer diagnosis and we were promptly informed that Ryan would not be returning to school that September due to the gruelling treatment regime that lay ahead. Ryan ultimately missed years 9, 10 and 11. He did not get to sit his GCSE exams with his peer group. The school were supportive of our situation and allowed Ryan to return to the Year 13 College but attend English and Maths GCSE lessons on a part-time basis for a year. He then sat those exams and thankfully passed both with a C in English and B in Maths.

College Courses

Having only two GCSE results again limited Ryan’s options for college. With guidance and advice from the school and careers advisor, we were able to get Ryan a place at college on a vocational course studying Animal Care which is a subject Ryan enjoys. He has always talked about working with animals. He finds them less complex than people. The Animal Care course is a level 2 qualification and included a block of work experience which Ryan chose to complete at a local RSPCA rescue centre. The feedback we received was that Ryan worked hard and did everything he was asked to do and more but he was not much of a team player in that he did not initiate conversations or engage well. We do not know if they were aware of Ryan’s Asperger’s diagnosis but again it shows the difficulties young adults with autism face. Do you tell your employer? Ryan prefers not to ‘advertise’ his diagnosis but he can come across as rude. We had this issue with the hospital staff when Ryan was going through his cancer treatment and we created a communication passport for his hospital file similar to the one he had in school, but doing something similar in the workplace is not as easy.

An update: April 2020 - Ryan achieved a Distinction in his level 2 exam.

Learning to Drive

Ryan has not yet made the decision to learn to drive. I am not sure if it is the unknown or having to sit in close proximity to the instructor and having to engage with them, but Ryan is reluctant whenever I raise the possibility with him. However, as we live in such a rural area, with a limited bus service then need to drive is important if you ever want to be able to get to work.

Job Market

We have discussed at length Ryan’s options now that he has finished his college course. Self-employed as a pet care business offering to look after pets when owners are away or at work. Dog walking, house sitting etc. Trying to find paid for employment with a rescue centre, kennels, cattery, pet shop etc. Volunteering opportunities. All these options have pros and cons and I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on what might be the next steps for Ryan. With social anxiety and communication difficulties finding a job is more difficult than usual. Add to that ongoing treatment for cancer and those difficulties increase. Employers are going to be reluctant to take on a person that is going to need regular time off for treatment and appointments. Have you been through this uncertainty yourselves? Any tips and advice will be greatly appreciated. Either from autism or cancer perspectives. A list of people and organisations that can help you with guidance and advice can be found on our Autism and Cancer pages on the website.


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