The challenges of looking for options outside our little 100×35
Our little island of Puerto Rico is a mere 100×35 and it’s full of drama. We are a part of the US but not really acknowledged for many, and on many aspects. It shows in so many ways, from things like not been able to buy on eBay some things because they don’t deliver here, to greater things like not having benefits. That should give you and idea. But to us personally, it hits us the most on not having programs available for our teenagers and adults group.
If you search for programs for autism here, you might find 5 or 6 and all for children.
The adolescent I have on my hands is one that sees himself studying on a university and getting a job, like any other person. As an Aspie, he is somehow functional. Functional enough to study. As for getting a job, that remains to be seen. He did had a little job experience working as a volunteer on a sport event on their small cafeteria. There he was very helpful, followed instructions, and even won over the lady who was in charge.
But that’s the thing about these kids; they are capable of many things if given the chance, but they need the place, the right people who understand how they work, and how to deal with them.
Finding jobs, even with studies, its hard on anyone. But for this group, here on our island it’s almost non-existent. The population of autistic people over 18 are around 7,000. Some of them do want to work and take care of themselves and not to depend on the Government (if they are lucky) or their families. In their search for employment they get discrimination since their major problems are socializing, and interviews are a big challenge for them.
In PR there is a program called Vocational Rehabilitation, but the problem with the program is that they are not a job employments agency. They just help them learn to do some work, but they are not the ones responsible to get them jobs.
We are living a moment in time where the autistic community is getting too big to ignore. More people are speaking up and demanding attention to them. They are special and they are human beings too. They too need to live. There has been a conscientization movement and there are one or two programs that are being formed, but still to be seen if they will succeed.
In the meantime, we went out, to Seattle specifically. We have been there before and we loved it instantly, especially the guy who did not want to even think about leaving PR. He was sold from day one when we saw the huge libraries, all the museums, bookstores, and all the streets full of people around the market (something that still amazes me, being in a place full of people sometimes is fun for him, even Times Square in NY).
There are 5 universities with programs for Aspies in the US, and one of them is the Bellevue College there. We were not able to go there because we both got sick and by the time we were getting better it was time to come back to our 100×35. But we will keep searching. There’s a future to think of, and we have to make plans, options A, B and even a C if we can.