Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Thinking ahead

Thinking about the future was something that many parents said that they found hard. They were concerned about who would take care of their children and what would happen to their children when they were no longer around. For parents of young children in particular, it was very difficult to have any idea of the ways in which their children would develop (see Positive change over time’). On this page, we provide an overview of the ways in which parents discussed their children’s future prospects.

For some parents of older children or adults, difficulties revolved around the problems their children had doing typical jobs. The children took longer to process information, or found workplaces too chaotic to cope with, and trying to find the right employer and the right position was rarely successful.

For the parents whose children were in college, the concern was about what would happen to the children at the end of the course. As one father said; “What do we do next? He won’t be ready for employment. He will probably never live independently. He will always need somebody by his side, so what does he do next?”

Parents of younger children described mixed feelings about their children’s futures. For some parents the future was a “scary, scary time ahead” while other parents were confident that their children would lead happy and fulfilled lives.

Parents tended to focus on trying to prepare their children for adult life despite the uncertainty this entailed. One mother, for example, described how her son wanted to study augmentation and artificial limbs and electronics at Cambridge University and she was working hard to prepare him to live independently so he could achieve this.

The uncertainty that parents experienced about their children’s future, is a common characteristic of having a child on the autism spectrum. Accessible information, support and service provision are factors which help parents to feel more confident about their children’s futures and these are discussed further in ‘Information’ and Support groups' and 'Respite care’.

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Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated November 2010


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