Health Alert: Adult autism

NATIONAL - Kids with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, have trouble interacting with others, so imagine what life is like when they become adults. The transition could be easier.

Adam Kahn is brushing up on his people skills. He's heading back to college and needs practice being social.

He has Asperger's Syndrome - an autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Mary Riggs Cohen says, "They're not always understood in the way they're trying to communicate, as many people in the autism spectrum are not understood. Their socialization tends to be different because they don't pay attention to social cues."

Dr. Cohen runs a 'social skills seminar' at the University of Pennsylvania. The goal of the program is to help young people with Asperger's transition into adulthood.

"One thing we've learned is you have to have experiences in order to learn social behavior."

Good social experiences are few and far between for someone growing up with Asperger's.

Dr. Anthony Rostain, "Most of them either get socially rejected or worse, they get scorned or bullied. Or they get ignored."

So participants in the seminar learn the art of small talk - both in the classroom and in the real world.

"I remember the one activity that Dr. Cohen wanted us to go into the book store, the Penn book store, and talk to a random person and get to know them more," said Adam Kahn.

"If they can achieve that and have a conversation where somebody actually responds to them and they're able to carry on a reciprocal conversation, they feel very relieved and they also feel empowered and I think it really helps their self esteem," says Dr. Riggs.

Everyone needs self esteem to survive. There is a support group network for adults with Asperger's. Check it out online at

Posted by Bryce Mursch