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The world of adulthood can quickly become an intimidating notion for anyone, let alone children and young adults with autism.

While several services dedicated to development and nurturing are provided during childhood, the more than three million Americans estimated to be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ultimately age out of such programs, often becoming anxious when faced with newfound responsibilities, particularly concerning finances. From paying bills to filing taxes, the importance of integrating financial management into the early education of learners with ASD becomes abundantly clear as a means of empowerment for these young men and women preparing to set foot into a larger world.

Nancy Cheak-Zamora concurs with the idea based on the research she conducted as assistant professor in the School of Health Professions. After interviewing individuals with autism between the ages of 16 and 25, it was quickly apparent that for many, financial independence and adulthood went hand in hand; according to Cheak-Zamora, the majority “of the participants saw a definite association between adulthood and handling money.”

Clark Peters, co-author of the study with Cheak-Zamora and an associate professor at the MU School of Social Work, agrees with his collaborator, suggesting that “despite the importance of financial autonomy and the increased independence that comes from understanding money, financial management and decision-making often are seen as outside the purview of professionals working with young people with autism.” If educational institutions were to implement financial management programs early on and even tailor them in accordance with the personal needs of those on the autism spectrum, “financial literacy in both schools and independent living programs could increase autonomy and quality of life for people with autism.”

It’s also recommended by both Peters and Cheak-Zamora that parents and caregivers lend a hand to the effort by doing their part to provide necessary skills and encouragement in the development process. Such skills can include helping children with autism pay for items at a store and helping them set up bank accounts, which in turn would increase the overall confidence needed to understand and proactively engage in financial matters.

Through guidance, patience, and understanding, children and young adults with autism can be made fully capable, independent, productive adults. And by learning financial literacy, they can be sure to enter adulthood with all the confidence and empowerment necessary to succeed.

The original story can be found at sciencedaily

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