Awesome Article! Inspiring too!
By Elizabeth Simpson
© July 8, 2012VIRGINIA BEACH
Travis Meeks is standing at the door to his future.
A neighbor has just dropped off a graduation card.
The 19-year-old has opened it, expressionless as a $20 bill falls out.
"What do you say?" his mother asks.
Travis looks through the glass door of their townhouse.
The neighbor is nearly across the street and back to her house by now.
"Thank you!" he yells.
"Go to her door and thank her!" his mother, Michelle Meeks, says.
"She heard me."
This June day is a milestone for Travis, who, like the others in his Green Run High School class, dons a blue cap and gown, poses for photos with grandparents who flew in from out of state, and endures the last-minute tie adjustment by his mother.
But the ceremony presents more of a question than an answer for Travis and his family.
He belongs to a growing population of graduates with autism, a disorder that mars communication and social skills. Partly because of better diagnosis and awareness, the number of children identified with the disorder has surged during the past decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated, in a March report based on a 2008 study, that 1 in 88 American children has some form of autism spectrum disorder, a 78 percent increase from 2002.
And while much of the medical focus has been on diagnosing and treating young children, the fact that a growing cohort is graduating from high school - half a million will reach adulthood in the next decade - is driving this question:
What is next for them?