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    Joined: Dec 2021
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    TL;DR: Local edgy teen whines for ~6 paragraphs straight.

    I'm 14. I live in the Middleofnowhere, CA, which is just west of Betteroffforgotten, CA. My parents refused to get an autism/ADHD screening (My parents weren't clear on what the school asked, and they're my only source of information) when the school asked for it on (MULTIPLE)?? separate occasion. I'm trying to find a way to get screened, but my county has like, 3 psychologists per a population of 40,000, and one is a horse therapist, which is apparently a type of therapy with an emotional support horse. In CA, you can legally obtain 'psychological treatment' or whatever without parent knowledge, but I doubt an autism diagnosis now would do anything. I'll just be quirky forever I guess.

    Secondly, I have no idea what I want to do when I'm older. My parents are not exactly the least hillbilly people on this planet, so they're just like, "Wow, be a doctor because they're rich." At this point, I just want to live in a hut in the middle of nowhere and collect welfare checks. I was thinking about maybe joining the Armed Forces, since that's what everyone does when they have no idea what they're gonna do when they're older, but if I have an autism diagnosis on record, they're not gonna let me on. On the other hand, I'm super physically weak anyway, so I'd be literally (figuratively?) murdered in bootcamp. I don't really want to do college because it's pointless. Most degrees aren't even needed anyway for the jobs people do. People are paying to be way overqualified for simple jobs, and I'm thinking that more people should actively avoid college because it's getting to the point that people who DON'T go to college are considered dumb. It's ridiculous! Plenty of incredibly smart, talented people don't go to college.

    3rd: My school is so backwards. The worst. Everyone is either incredibly racist/homophobic, or they're chronically online. Our school spent $1.5m on Astroturf for the field, and then our football team repaid the treasurer's generosity by getting themselves suspended for racist threats. We don't even have a regular 10th gd. English teacher. I had to drop out of advanced English class b/c even though the workload is insane, my friends are passing with just Sparknotes. You know something is wrong with that teacher if she's assigning that much work with that little meaning in it. All the people in the regular English class are little [vile slurs redacted]. And all the people have known me since 1st grade, which means everybody remembers the time I threw a printer at the teacher in 2nd grade or hissed at people or whatever made the school suggest I get an autism diagnosis. Everything is literally so easy. It's completely ridiculous that I have to spend any time at all on it, but this school insists on keeping me 7 hrs a day just to watch little Johnny pick his nose and do the Nazi salute. 9th graders weren't allowed to take any AP classes, and the only AP class a 10th grader can take is AP euro. I've got a B in it and I haven't studied at all (because I have terrible work habits).

    4th: My parents are probably going to disown me when I'm older because I'm attracted to girls, and I don't want to have to rely on them for college funding. I also want to save it for my two younger brothers, who they don't even have a fund for.

    Basically, my plan is to somehow convince them to let me attend a trade/high school in Sacramento, which is an hour away. I don't know how I'd arrange transportation, though. I also want to determine if it's worth the hassle to get an autism diagnosis or not.

    Sorry that this is super unprompted and off-topic; I just wanted a place to rant.


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    Welcome, bison! Feel free to rant (within usual community parameters of respect, of course!). Everyone needs to let off steam somewhere, and if one exists at the intersection of multiple subgroups, it can be hard to find appropriate ventilation.

    I'll start by saying that I think there is a lot of merit to your plan (with regard to a vocational-technical high school). As it happens, that is my type of professional setting, where I work with quite a lot of individuals in the population you are describing, who do rather well here. Some of them come in already identified, with a range of services or supports, others are identified after they arrive, and some present very much like the identified persons, but have no formal diagnosis. Also in support of your plan is the experience of many other neuroatypical persons. I don't know if you've read any of Temple Grandin's works, but you might enjoy her books. This one (https://www.amazon.com/Temple-Grandin-Different-Not-Less/dp/B00N4GXQM6/) is specifically about other neuroatypical people (not only herself), and how they've been successful leveraging their neuroatypicalities in different vocations.

    In terms of convincing your parents, you might consider doing some research on the projected growth in technicians needed in the skilled trades over the next 10-20 years, as well as the projected attrition (retirements) anticipated over the same period. It's quite eye-opening. We have alumni who come back to speak with our students, and describe making 70-90K only a couple of years out of high school. Many experienced teachers with master's degrees aren't making that much. And the trades provide essential services to the infrastructure of our society, without which the college-educated knowledge professions would not be able to function. One is not better than the other in honor or importance. (And if we're looking purely at money, consider that the average MD can expect to take 10 years to pay off 200K in student debt, after having already spent at least 10 additional years in school, not earning much income. You'll leave a public voc-tech high school with adult-level technical certification in something you can use immediately, and no debt.)

    Take a look at the US government's projection of the 30 careers with the most job growth over the next decade (https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/occupations-most-job-growth.htm), and you'll see that nearly all of them can be started directly out of a CTE (career technical education, aka voc-tec) high school, or with just a bit of additional (usually on-the-job) training. This doesn't even include the fields I mentioned above, where it's not so much about job growth as it is anticipated attrition of existing workers, especially in certain regions. (CNC machinists/programmers would be an example: overall growth isn't necessarily shocking, but in the Northeast, the anticipated turnover is above 20% in some parts.)

    And, fwiw, nothing stops a trade high school grad from continuing their education in college. Our school (which is, honestly, just average in academics) has had several students recruited by the local state university on full ride scholarships because postsecondary institutions are starting to recognize that vocationally-trained admits add something to their campuses. And one of the current movements in CTE is to make dual enrollment much more accessible to all students, which means that a motivated student can start accumulating gen ed college credits for free while in high school (which saves money too).

    So if you want to do CTE, and can swing the logistics, there are a lot of good reasons to go for it.

    On the ASD question, I should open with the caveat that we don't really know if this is an accurate diagnostic categorization for you. That would be a question for an assessment professional conducting a thorough direct evaluation with you. (There are other possible explanations for the snippets you reported.) But so. You mention multiple aspects:

    1. Diagnosis
    a. now
    b. later

    2. Treatment

    1a. Diagnosis now: yes, as a minor, you are a bit stuck, since pretty much everything diagnostic needs parental consent. That doesn't mean you couldn't have a conversation with a sympathetic guidance counselor about some low-level accommodations (if you need any), since public schools are supposed to provide multi-tiered systems of support, with the first couple of tiers not disability-based. IOW, you shouldn't need a diagnosis to get some kinds of help if you need them. It might be valuable to sit down and reflect on what kinds of changes in your school environment would help you to be successful (without completely disrupting everyone else's education, naturally!).

    1b. Diagnosis later: the value or impact of an ASD diagnosis (presuming that is warranted) in adult life depends on where you find yourself in a few years. If you are thinking seriously about the military, you might want to find someone who actually knows how a diagnosis of any kind would impact you. It may be that the effect is not what you are expecting. Do exercise discretion with recruiters, though, and keep in mind that their primary function is as sales people--often high pressure. If you're not yet serious about this, maybe do some research online with legitimate military information sources first, rather than contacting a live person. For post-secondary education (college, trade/technical schools, certificate programs), the diagnosis can be useful, as it may provide access to helpful accommodations at federally-funded schools. It's also not too late to go through the diagnostic process as an adult, if that turns out to be of value in the future. Plenty of adults are diagnosed in middle age--often when their school-age children are diagnosed.

    2. Treatment: don't take this as discouraging (it's supposed to be encouraging!), but TBH, treatment (therapy and skills training) now would not be much different than therapy in a few years as an adult. The big difference would have been interventions in elementary school (better yet, early childhood) vs now. But you come across as a bright, self-aware young person, and I see no reason why you could not seek out support now or in the next few years that provides you with more of the tools you need and want for leading a satisfying personal, relational and occupational life. As an example, here's a program that is expressly for young adults immediately post-high school, without intellectual disabilities (so you, in a few years): https://health.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/clinic/social-skills/access.html

    For ASD, especially in someone as thoughtful as you are, some of the skills you might want to look into would be ones for executive functions (especially emotional regulation, cognitive shift/adaptability, initiation), particularly as they intersect with social communication and pragmatics. These are skills that can be learned. You might look at some of the resources (many of them free) of Michelle Garcia Winner (www.socialthinking.com) on social communication and interaction. A lot of them target younger children, but there are also some looking at adolescents, and even the more childish materials may have some bits and pieces that might resonate with you. These are interventions that professionals use with learners with ASD, so I'm not exactly expecting you to treat yourself, but I think it might help you to know what standard therapies would look like.

    And now I have returned your TL "whining" with rather more words... smile


    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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