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My son has autism. Our society has gotten used to him, but it still won't include him.

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“Why doesn’t (insert company name) want me? Why don’t I have any friends?”

My son Ryan is 27 years old, and he has autism. These are a couple of the questions he asks me after a job interview ends with a “no” (they all do), or when his younger brother brings his friends or girlfriend to the house. Ryan is painfully aware of what is missing in his life. He even has names for sons he will likely never have — Gavin and Nicholas.

Although autism affects everyone on the spectrum in varying degrees, in general, people with autism have difficulty finding employment and friends. Ryan doesn’t have the emotional or cognitive IQ level equal to most people in his age group — far from it — but he is limited more by what society allows him to do than his autism. It is time we, as a society, finally move beyond awareness to inclusion.

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