Elizabeth Minehart

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 7:39am

News & Record covers the YMCA of Greensboro Autism programs.

Rita Layson thought her daughter, Melissa, was happy with her life.

Melissa was diagnosed at the age of 2 with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified) — a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. She has normal intelligence, works part-time at Panera Bread and enjoys going to the movies.

So when, at age 26, she said, “Mom, I’m miserable,” Rita’s heart sank.

Melissa was lonely and felt socially isolated, a common problem among adults with autism.

Nearly 40 percent of young adults with autism never see friends and half are not receiving any phone calls or being invited to activities, according to a study published in the November 2013 Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The study also revealed that 28 percent have no social contact at all. Adults with autism have difficulty navigating friendships and often struggle with the skills that go along with building relationships, like understanding social cues, making small talk and organizing plans.

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