Since then, Adria has taken a position as a bi-weekly columnist with the Bloomington Herald-Times, and she works as a research assistant at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University. She writes a monthly blog, Adria’s Notebook, about her personal experiences with multiple disabilities as a young adult and talks about independent living and community involvement in teens and young adults with disabilities. She also gives guest lectures on autism and learning disabilities in children, teens, and young adults for the university and other academic institutions serves on the board of directors for the Monroe County Autism Foundation, and is currently serving as a Volunteer Advocacy Ambassador with Autism Speaks to help advocate for autism-related policy and law on the federal level. If you are around Bloomington, you may see Adria around town with her service dog, Lucy.
In this post, I wanted Adria to share a little about her background, including the types of supports and services that she has found to be beneficial. Below are some of the questions I asked her and her responses. I think you will find this fascinating and inspiring!
What types of therapies and supports were helpful for you during childhood and adolescence? What did your parents do well to help you?
I did not receive any sort of professional therapy related to autism during my childhood years. I received weekly physical and occupational therapy, both privately and through the school system due to cerebral palsy, but nothing related to autism; however, my parents were very good at developing and enforcing consistent expectations and consequences and both tried as hard as they could to “be on the same page” with these expectations. They also expected me to contribute to the running of the household from the time I was very young and were very good with modeling and working on appropriate social behaviors and goals both at home and in the community from the beginning. They accepted early on that I would have challenges, but did not do everything for me. They expected me to try things on my own first before they would help. I also became used to being left in the care of trusted individuals other than my parents or family members from a very young age. This really helped me become comfortable with leaning on others other than my immediate family for assistance or social relationships
Autism Related Supports in Adolescence:
Smaller Study Hall in School
Direct 1:1 Care After School and Summer 1:1 Care, Until Leaving for College (2006)
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
Year-Round Swim Team age 10 until graduating high school
Young Adulthood: (Today)
Applied Behavioral Therapy (Work on Executive Functioning Skills Such as Organization, Time Management, Prioritization, etc. (Meets Once a Week, Paid for by Medicaid Waiver)
Clinical Therapy and Psychiatry (Paid by Medicaid Waiver)
Swim at YMCA 3X per week
Service Dog, Lucy trained for autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy
Direct 1:1 care 2 days per week, assistance with independent living skills (Paid by Medicaid Waiver)
Social Mentoring (1:1 Indiana University Bloomington student beginning in January 2021) Paid by Nassim Family 2X per week
You have shared some of your journey with self-acceptance. How has this been an important part of your growth and maturity?
During my teen years, the social gap between my life and the lives of my friends slowly began to widen. I couldn’t understand why if I was keeping up with them academically, I couldn’t keep up socially. I experienced a lot of depression and self-loathing for a while. After several years of support from child and adolescent mental health services, I began to accept that my life may be different, but that didn’t mean I had failed. Today, I am much happier. I will say, one of the best things to happen to me to help facilitate this switch in thought process was actually getting a clinical diagnosis of autism. Knowing that these attributes are not related to deficits of work ethic or character, but rather something medical, has made all the difference.
What sources of support are currently helpful for you? Do you have any advice for young adults who need help but don’t know how to go about getting it?
Clinical Therapy, Psychiatry
Direct Support 1:1 Care
Social Mentoring (Beginning January 2021)
I would hesitate to offer advice simply because it depends on what areas they are looking for help in.