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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Neurodivergence in Adulthood

 In The Politics of Autism, I write:

Many analyses of autism speak as if it were only a childhood ailment and assume that parents are the main stakeholders. But most children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, and they suffer uniquely high levels of social isolation. Almost 40 percent of youth with an autism spectrum disorder never get together with friends, and 50 percent of never receive phone calls from friends. These figures are higher than for peers with intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or learning disability. When school ends, many adults with autism have grim prospectsThough evidence is sparse, it seems that most do not find full-time jobs. Compared with other people their age, they have higher rates of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and suicide attempts.

But there are also positive stories of autistic adults, including those who received their diagnosis later in life. 

Alexandra Del Rosario at LAT:

For Tallulah Willis, an Instagram throwback about her father, Bruce Willis, evolved into a public conversation about her experience with autism.

Tallulah, the 30-year-old daughter of the “Die Hard” star and his ex-wife, actor Demi Moore, revealed over the weekend that she was diagnosed with autism last year. On Instagram, she posted a video of her younger self in her father’s arms as he answers questions at a red-carpet premiere . In the clip, the younger Willis runs her hands over her father’s head, touching his ears.

“Tell me your [sic] autistic without telling me your [sic] autistic 😂,” she captioned her throwback post.

While the Instagram video garnered multiple comments expressing love for the tender father-daughter moment, it also prompted responses from people in the autism community, including parents whose children were diagnosed at an early age and a psychologist who specializes in neurodivergent conditions.

Meet Kendall Griffin, a neurodivergent college student at Pepperdine University! My son Joshua Pitney co-directed this mini-documentary for Big Heart Toys.

Kendall highlights the positive impacts that accommodations in university have on her learning experience, which other neurodivergent students may relate to! Kendall’s journey portrays the intersect of mental health and finding the freedom to be “comfortably neurodivergent.” While seeking the security to be herself, build connections, and pursue her passions – particularly in theater – she uncovers the beauty and strength within her.   Kendall’s answer to creating a more accepting world? “Showing compassion, love, and understanding – even if you don’t understand – it goes a long way.”