We took Rob to see a job coach who specializes in working with high functioning autism/AS teens and adults, because Rob was having trouble keeping a job, and having trouble in school.  The coach told us about the “2/3 rule” — and I wonder how I had never heard of it before. It explains so much.

The 2/3 rule: think of your  AS/HFA child as being emotionally and socially 2/3 of his chronological age.

That means that Rob, who is about to turn 21, is really about 14 in his social/emotional development and judgment. That was an eye opener for us – especially for Rob’s dad, who tends to underestimate Rob’s level of impairment. We had always thought of Rob as being 3-4 years behind in social development, which was of course true when he was younger; but the gap has grown since he has gotten older. The irony is that he has this level of emotional and social judgment in a 21 year old, 6’3″ 180 lb. body.

This explains several things. We should not have let him drive when we did. We waited until he was well over eighteen to let him get his license, thinking that was about right; but that meant he was really only 12 in judgment, which explains the speeding tickets and general disregard for traffic rules that resulted in him losing his license.  He will be 24 or 25 before we let him try to drive again.

He has also had trouble keeping motivated in school and at work. But if he is just now getting to be 14, that also explains alot.

On the positive side, it explains some developments we have seen in him: the ability to think more abstractly, to empathize more, and an increased interest and ability to be social.

Most of all, it helps us understand that he will need significant support until he is about 30.  We do not expect 14 yr olds to be able to support themselves, or to have the drive and vision to keep motivated at school and work without some significant assistance.   That should seem obvious, but Rob is smart and big, and actually does pretty well for himself, so it is easy to overestimate his emotional capabilities. I don’t want to underestimate him; but we don’t want to set him up for frustration and failure either. This rule will help us find the right balance, I hope.

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