Young man with autism transitions from school into adult life

RyanOndracekTopeka, Kansas – Ryan Ondracek, 22 was diagnosed with severe infantile autism at the age of 2. The Tokeka Capital – Journal reports that his parents, Dan and Carol Ondracek were told the their son would end up in a state hospital.

Today, Ryan lives at home and has a part-time job.

His mother said:

“At first, I felt like we were walking alone. I couldn’t find anyone else with a son with Ryan’s type of autism,”

Ryan and his twin brother Alex were born six weeks prematurely and a minute apart in August 1991.

Over the years Ryan has taken a variety of medications and supplements and in September 1999, he began six months of monthly intravenous gamma globulin treatments to help boost his weak immune system.

For the past 10 years Ryan has watched the “Wheel of Fortune” television show and has documented in notebooks the answers and contestants.

Ryan could read before he had spoken any words and he had memorized the multiplication tables by age 4.

By age 9, he could repeat the ZIP codes of major businesses in Topeka and transpose music on the piano.

Ryan was in regular classes throughout his school years and after graduating from Washburn Rural High School in 2010, he entered the district’s 12-plus vocational training program and then the Search project in Lawrence, which teaches job skills to young people with developmental delays.

Through the Search project, Ryan did data entry for The University of Kansas’ Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets and he prepared shipments of monarch larvae rearing kits for Monarch Watch at KU.

His father said:

“He went to KU every day and sees that as his going to college,”

About two months ago, Carol heard about a job vacancy at Southwest Caging and sent in Ryan’s resume, and after an interview, Ryan was hired to work 18 hours a week sorting and counting cards.

The Ondraceks said they continue to worry about Ryan’s safety and realize that their son if living indpenedently in his own home would need costly round-the-clock assistance. They have appointed a guardian and establish a will to make sure that Ryan is cared for when they are gone.

“I don’t know what the future will hold,” his mother said, “and I have to remind myself to let go and let God.”

The original article by Jan Biles in the Topeka Capital-Journal can be read here