TUFF President Wendy Besmann and Executive Director Heather Hall recently presented “Five Essential Life Hacks for Young Adults with Autism,” to a group of 130 social workers, educators, counseling professionals, and family members in an event sponsored by East Tennessee Council on Children and Youth.

Young adults with autism, even more than other groups, often feel overwhelmed when navigating unfamiliar situations–from leaving a voice mail for a nurse at a primary care practice to shopping for groceries in a new neighborhood. Breaking situations down into logical, step-by-step processes with clearly defined “rules of the road” is a crucial support for people who struggle with multi-sensory environments. It can allow young adults with ASD (who so often have difficulty generalizing knowledge) to apply rules they learn in one situation or environment to other challenges they encounter. – Wendy Besmann, TUFF President

This presentation, based on TUFF’s Guiding Star strategic thinking tool for managing complicated situations, drew on the many simple, practical tips included in the new guide and curriculum Young Adult Road Map

Some additional resources and suggestions provided by the events speakers and participants:


  • PowerPoint
  • Calling Vs. Texting
    • Wendy Besmann mentioned her son David has problems knowing when a phone call or text is more appropriate. The website Hiya has some answers. Click here to learn more.
  • Women with Autism
    • Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World by Laura James. Click here to see it on Amazon.
      Summary (taken from Google Books): “What do you do when you wake up in your mid-forties and realize you’ve been living a lie your whole life? Do you tell? Or do you keep it to yourself? Laura James found out that she was autistic as an adult, after she had forged a career for herself, married twice and raised four children. This book tracks the year of Laura’s life after she receives a definitive diagnosis from her doctor, as she learns that ‘different’ doesn’t need to mean ‘less’ and how there is a place for all of us, and it’s never too late to find it.Laura draws on her professional and personal experiences and reflects on her life in the light of her diagnosis, which for her explains some of her differences; why, as a child, she felt happier spinning in circles than standing still and why she has always found it difficult to work in places with a lot of ambient noise. Although this is a personal story, the book has a wider focus too, exploring reasons for the lower rate of diagnosed autism in women and a wide range of topics including eating disorders and autism, marriage and motherhood.This memoir gives a timely account from a woman negotiating the autistic spectrum, from a poignant and personal perspective.”
  • Giving Young Adults a Script (to use with providers)
    • “Twelve Questions to Ask About a New Medication” (and excerpt from Young Adult Road Map)
      • 1. What if I can’t swallow a pill or capsule? Is it available in chewable or liquid form?
      • 2. Can a pill be cut in half?
      • 3. What is the dosage?
      • 4. Is it likely to change during the time I am getting used to it?
      • 5. Is there a less expensive, generic version I can take?
      • 6. Do I need to avoid any foods when taking this medication?
      • 7. What are possible side effects? Which ones are most likely?
      • 8. Which side effects mean that I should contact your office immediately?
      • 9. What if I skip a dose or throw up the medication?
      • 10. How many times each day must the medicine be taken? What time of day?
      • 11. Does this medication need to be taken with food?
      • 12. Will I need to take any regular “lab” tests to monitor this medication?