Let me start by saying my autistic daughter is extremely intelligent. So much so that she is in the gifted and talented program at her elementary school. She is being tested this year to see if she qualifies for a special school in our city just for children who are academic high achievers. This is a great honor. Intelligence is not one of her weaknesses, executive functioning is. How can an autistic adult live independently when this is such an issue for so many of them?
When people talk to her, they marvel at her vocabulary and sentence structure. It would seem that she would be capable of doing almost anything she set her mind to in life. I can easily agree, that is until something unexpected happens and she becomes physically frozen and unable to move. The last time this happened she dropped a glass on the floor. The shattering sent me running into the kitchen. She was fine. She stood perfectly still in the circle of glass, unable to even verbalize what had happened.
My amazing communicator goes into shutdown mode at the first sign of trouble. When this happens, my directions have to be few and deliberate. “Don’t walk!,” and “Let me sweep up the glass.” After I clean everything up, we can talk about what happened. These are the things I think about when she talks to me about when she is a grown up and has her own apartment. I just can’t see this happening. At least not without someone who knows they need to help her. Especially when unexpected things happen that require critical thinking. She can’t critically think. Multiple steps under stress? Forget it. How is she going to be able to manage her own living situation?
An Autistic Adult Can Live Independently With The Right Tools
Simple occurrences in most people’s homes are very complicated situations for people living with autism. One great example is fire alarms. Everyone has a fire alarm go off in their house or apartment for one reason or another. Sure, the noise is deafening and annoying, but when it happens a neurotypical person will decide to figure out how to get it to shut off. My daughter covers her ears and starts screaming; frozen in place.
Thinking about how this would play out in the real world makes me wonder if an autistic adult can live independently. They can, they have, they do. It takes an honest appraisal as to what is possible by both the caregiver and the autistic adult seeking to live independently. Some ASD individuals couldn’t live alone with any amount of reasonable success. For everyone with ASD there are solutions.
Since autism is as varied as the individuals with an ASD diagnosis, you will need to figure out what supports are needed in order for the autistic adult to live independently, or at least outside of the family home:
- Group homes
- In-house supports
- In-law apartments
- Community housing
- Compassionate roommates
Much Needs To Be Done So That An Autistic Adult Can Live Independently
What does community housing look like for an autistic adult and what would it look like in the future? Perhaps it will be a lot like assisted living, but for those who need help living independently in the autistic realm instead of an aging person with health and/or mobility issues. For those who are more affected, there are group homes already in existence but they are few and far between.
Alarmingly, only 1 in 4 family caregivers is even saving for financial provision so that their autistic adult can live independently in the future. Even for those who are saving, the options for their autistic children to live independently are still yet to be developed.
With so much riding on the future so that an autistic adult can live independently, the time is now for gathering information, discussing possibilities, working towards milestones for independence, and keeping track of any and all information needed for someone to help care for your autistic child in an independent living situation.
Conveying All The Information Someone Needs To Help Your Autistic Loved One
There is a lot of information that goes with someone affected by ASD, especially how they deal with stress and critical thinking. How does your autistic child deal with stress? Chances are some of their behavior is similar to my daughter’s and others not at all. How do you communicate all this to someone who is going to help your autistic loved one live on their own?
What about medical information? Communicating with specialists and collaborating with in-home assistance? You use eCare Vault. It’s the first cloud-based secure platform that allows you to upload information and share it with anyone who is helping your autistic adult live independently. Collaboration and communication all in one place. What’s not to love? eCare Vault can’t help you relax about your autistic child living outside the home but it can help you manage it all with confidence.