Originally published in Contra Costa Times
October 15, 2014
By Sarah Rohrs
BERKELEY -- Memo Hernandez is like most teens. Excited about the future, he dreams of moving out of his parents' house, getting a job and having his own life.
Those goals aren't a given for the 17-year-old Hayward teen, who has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit disorder, ADHD.
But while he's challenged in ways unknown to most people his age, Hernandez is fortunate, too. He is getting help making the transition into adulthood at a downtown Berkeley school.
"I want to be a productive and successful person in life," Hernandez said, adding that his dream is a career in chemistry or physics, and also to do art, so he can inspire others.
Social schools and service agencies are bracing for a wave of high school graduates with autism, Asperger's, and ADHD who will need more help to leave the home nest, officials said.
Hernandez is one member of a generation of young adults born during a wave of autism and Asperger's cases that presents major hurdles for parents, educators and social service programs.
As legions of young people made the annual back-to-school pilgrimage this fall, so did Hernandez.
For the last month he's been living at and studying at the College Internship Program in Berkeley, one of six schools nationwide which give him and others skills to pursue jobs and a college education.