Here is a recent study concerning outcomes for Quality of life for our young adults on the spectrum aging out of the educational system-
quality of life into adulthood
This is obviously not good news. That said, I do believe we have made strides in how we, as a society, view Autism and how we treat the deficits of Autism. While there are still treatments that focus on behaviors and getting a child to perform static skills, studies like these show that the long term benefits to teaching skills in hopes of generalization to thinking is very limited. We now know that children with Autism can obtain theory of mind in a developmental fashion just like their Neuro typical peers. Theory of mind/mindfulness however cannot be taught as a set of discreet skills to master. A child's developmental gaps must be remediated and the neurology of the brain will begin to repair itself. Developmental/Cognitive programs like RDI(R) Relationship Development Intervention, provides a child a do over in development. On page 15 of "The RDI Book" Dr Gutstein states that Dynamic Intelligence ( Theory of mind) and Neural integration have a circular relationship with one another. Dynamic Intelligence is a product of a neurally integrated brain. Neurally integrated brains development through dynamic problems that challenge the brains current neural architecture. The observable product of dynamic neural development us Dynamic intelligence."
Static vs Dynamic intelligence chart
Keeping in mind when we refer to IQ, we are looking at static skills. Someone with a 4.0 grade average from Princeton or YALE is not guaranteed a quality of life ( good job, marriage/relationships, etc) simply on their IQ. The determining factors take into consideration ones ability to have the mindfulness of all those dynamic functions mentioned on the chart. Life is not the sum of knowledge and IQ, but of experience and being able to share experience and perspective. This is NO different for a child on the spectrum. They may have some obstacles in their neurology for this to come naturally, but that is certainly no reason to concentrate on static abilities only with the thought that they are not needed, or that they *can't* do it.
When I look at my own children, of course I want them to do well with static skills. Those tend to come naturally for them...as I definitely can't memorize like my boys can! However, I know I needed to look further then *school* and sitting in a classroom learning skills. Beyond school is an entire world that does not play by the *rules* and is constantly changing. How would I prepare them for that? How can I make sure they don't fall into the statistics of functioning as a child with ASD, getting by, only to have the demands of adult life too much for them to handle. As the study shows, we need to do better! We can't sit by and hope that they will develop dynamic thinking by teaching our children static skills. We know that brain neurology does not work that way. The ability to solve problems, prioritize demands, have meaningful relationships and achieve long terms goals is acheived by the foundations of developmental neurology which are in place in a typical functioning child. We can have the same for the child with ASD as we go back to their * breaking point* in neurology and fill in those gaps. That is building a mind on a strong foundation. Our kids deserve that second chance!!