The Wrong Planet Guide to Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum

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LaetiBlabla
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17 Sep 2018, 12:15 pm

^^^"Lucky"! No. Of course everybody needs luck in life, but "courageous" because when you are autistic you don't do that without a lot, lot of courage.

Also, I was personally motivated to become independent and leave my family asap because of (/"thanks to") negative environment and bad parents. Adversity can be a motor, and is hence not an excuse.

A lot of autists succeed but you do not see them because they are usually part of the spectrum who
- work hard on it,
- studied and found a job that correspond to their special interest or abilities,
- do not advertise their autism at work (unless their job is to create a forum on autism ),
- do not have time to write their story on a forum,
- whose autism is not too much readily visible.

… and there are a lot of them. And at the end, you are quite happy to hear others ask you: "You had quite a normal life, are you sure you are autistic?"



BookwormSophie
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17 Sep 2018, 12:47 pm

I moved out when I was 18 for university. I'm from the West Coast and I moved East. Ever since then I’ve been living completely independently, although for 10 months I did have several roommates in Israel. I left home because I was completely incompetent. I had no idea how to do everything by myself. Well that’s a slight exaggeration but really I knew I was many years behind most people my age in terms of independence and capabilities. So I just took a flying leap into adulthood and moved to the other side of the country. Best decision I ever made. I know my parents meant well but they were overprotective in most ways and did almost everything for me. My main issue is cleanliness. I’ve lived abroad in several countries. I’ve been English language teacher. I love living independently and I’m getting better at it. But I know I have a lot of progress to make.

My parents are completely supportive. They’re not perfect but what parents are? Overall I think I’m very lucky to have them. Also I really think, and my parents and my dad’s gf really think, that my dad has undiagnosed Asperger’s. So he “gets” me pretty well.



BookwormSophie
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17 Sep 2018, 12:58 pm

pete413 wrote:
That's a pretty standard "normal" life you have going on there Alex. Really hard to identify. Are you sure you are even autistic?
college...dating....lucky job breaks, mr golden boy. pfft.
A lot of other folks on this site are not so lucky.


Why would you say something like that? On the surface my life is way better than normal. I’m living my dream life. I moved out at 18. I’ve lived abroad long-term in several countries. I graduated university cum laude despite my ADD. I’ve had terrific jobs. That doesn’t mean I don’t have autism. That doesn’t mean I don’t have sensory overloads or meltdowns. That doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle socially. That doesn’t mean that this world isn’t still a confusing place for me. I have autism I just also have a pretty awesome life. It’s absolutely possible! I have worked insanely hard to get to where I am today. I’m sure it’s the same for Alex.



ThePancakeKing
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08 Oct 2018, 11:43 pm

I am currently out of my parents' house (with about 80% of my stuff still there lol), but I don't know for how long exactly. I had a full time job at a manufacturing plant for three weeks before being let go due to not 'getting' it. Manufacturing is simply not for me and it wasn't a good fit for me. I hated the job anyway. The friend I live with works there so it was convenient for me to move into his place and work at this plant, but circumstances took a turn for the worst and I got let go. Now I've been job hunting nonstop for the last week trying to land something new without having to move back to my parents' (again).

Several years ago, I lived with family friends for nine months, but it wasn't working out (for personal reasons) and I ended up going back to my parents' house for almost three years, a time period I really wish was shorter now. Having motivation can be extremely difficult for people on the spectrum. We have a hard time moving if we feel too comfortable where we're at. This is one of the reasons why I'm doing everything I can to stay away from my parents' house now, not because I dislike my parents (they've been great), but because I know that if I go back, chances are, I'll get lazy again, and it would be a massive step backwards for me anyway. In conclusion, I guess what I'm trying to say is that becoming independent is hard. Making decisions becomes harder and almost none of them are completely risk-free.



AprilR
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09 Oct 2018, 3:52 am

I don't work but live alone. I try hard at keeping the house clean and cooking regularly in order to save money. I want to work too but im not sure what kind of job i can do. I have degree in law and international affairs but a few times i tried to work it didn't go well. I talk to a few friends from high school and that's about it.



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25 Oct 2018, 4:44 pm

When I was 19 I got in a van that was going to Barnstaple for a Beltane party. I stayed and never went back to the place that had been my most miserable location throughout my life (though I wasn't fully aware of that then).
I stumbled through forty years without having any autistic issues because I didn't know they could be my problem. I was just slightly to extremely weird depending on the company I was keeping.
Fast forward to 2018 and I discover ASC and that all the problems of living most of the last 40 years alone were/are symptomatic of a common brain variant.
If only the idiotnet was around back when I was growing and struggling through school and at home. All that bullying I went through and the failure to understand. Then the subsequent years of trying to fit in but being ridiculed for being clumsy, odd, different and regarded as lazy then diagnosed with fybromyalgia as a medical explanation for my meltdown in 2009.
All that time wasted searching for answers to questions I didn't even know.
Then finally resolving all of it by discovering a whole world of similar people refracted across every age and location.
Making that initial move from the place I was given as home to the place I chose as home could have been a beautiful thing with some real positives instead of the struggles and ridicule.
But stronger for beating the poison.. So whatever your travails, if you've made it this far then the rest of the journey can only be better at every turn.



BuyerBeware
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28 Oct 2018, 8:17 am

Nice to know other people struggled with it too. I moved out at 18 (dorm for one year, then bought a crappy trailer for like $3000 or $5000 or something because I HATED shared space) and thought I was some weird incompetent perma-kid because I was TERRIFIED. Now I know that’s pretty normal, and doubly so for someone on the spectrum.

I wish I’d known then that it was normal to struggle with it. Not even the skills so much— my dad taught me to balance a checkbook, pay bills, and I was only an hour from family if I needed help. Just with feeling incompetent and afraid and completely unmoored.

I’ll tell young autistics what I tell my kids— You can’t stay a kid forever. You have to do SOMETHING, be it go to school or get a job or what, because parents get old and get sick and die. But you don’t have to be in a hurry to move out unless your folks are shoving you out the door. If they are, think NOW about how you can feel safe.

Also, LEARN LIFE SKILLS. ALL THE LIFE SKILLS. Drive or use public transport or be safe and reasonably comfortable walking everywhere. Pay bills and budget. Learn some basic cooking— you will get sick if you live on gas station food and fast food. Microwave cooking is a great skill, because most dorms don’t allow hot plates and dorm cafeterias are horrible, horrible places (at least, for me— I chose to go hungry rather than eat there until Grandma resecued me with jars of potato soup and Daddy taught me to cook with a microwave). I know housework sucks, but— do housework for your parents NOW, so you will know how once you’re on your own (plus, it will make you more welcome if you need to stay home into adulthood or boomerang back).

Learn to keep yourself safe. The standard advice is out there. Well-lighted spaces, places with lots of other people, go in groups, all that. Go in groups never worked for me— if I hadn’t gone out alone I would have sat in my trailer and gathered cobwebs. If you’re alone, be comfortable with it. Look around you, head up, walk like it’s your street. I was a 115-pound woman out alone in the dark without a cell phone or a weapon— never got accosted by a stranger.

Acquaintances were a different story. There are lists and lists and lists of early warning signs of potentially abusive people. Memorize them, understand them, and apply them ruthlessly. Tolerance is good in theory. In practice, tolerating things like derision or controlling behavior or relatively small lapses in regards to consent about using your things or touching your person can get you into very bad situations.

Don’t date just because you’re lonely. That was something I wish I’d understood. Based on HS dating behavior, I saw friendships as momentary things that would disappear as people paired off, and finding a mate as the only way of making a friend I could keep. I’m really lucky I didn’t get date raped or end up married to an abusive jerk. As it was, we were too young (he was 18, I was 21) and there have been problems because of it, but it turned out mostly OK.


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magnetowasright
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28 Oct 2018, 8:29 am

I pretty much have no other choice. My family is far away in a politically and economically unstable country I could not get to even if I did want to. I have no social support of any kind, which has resulted in homelessness several different times over the past ten years.



jamthis12
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28 Oct 2018, 10:41 am

I think I might move into an apartment with my best friends sometime next year. I really want to make sure I have my own space, because I need it. Sharing a place is fine, but sharing a room would f**k me up.


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green0star
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30 Oct 2018, 7:58 am

Actually for some of us our parents don't want us to live alone because they feel we are incapable. I know for me living alone would be a psychical impossibility since my parents over many years literally put the fear of god in me about ever living alone in the world ...



TrekNerd20
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10 Mar 2019, 8:55 pm

Good advice. I know how to do the whole 'independent living' but my main hang ups are (1) Not being able to afford to live alone. This means I can't come home from a stressful day of work and shut out the world. I have to go home and play 'happy family' with other renters ie room 'mates'. (2) Not being able to keep a job long enough to commit to a long term lease. If not for my grandma I'd be on the streets right now. (3) Travelling/Commuting alone as a female without access to private transport. Sadly it's just more risky as a woman and I have a licence but no way to finance a car and all the MOT checks / mechanical stuff and insurance that go with it. If I won the lottery and could afford my own house, car and not need a job I'd totally be winning at 'independent living'. No people, no hassle.



TrekNerd20
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10 Mar 2019, 8:57 pm

green0star wrote:
Actually for some of us our parents don't want us to live alone because they feel we are incapable. I know for me living alone would be a psychical impossibility since my parents over many years literally put the fear of god in me about ever living alone in the world ...


yeah thats a good point. some parents like mine then use ASD excuse to keep you staying with relatives at home rather than moving into your own place and trying to live like a regular independent person.



IsabellaLinton
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10 Mar 2019, 9:24 pm

I moved away from my parents in 1986 when I started University. When I graduated I moved home and paid rent to my parents for a few months while I secured employment, but then I left and have never gone back. I can't fathom having stayed with them any longer because I was an adult by that age.

I didn't know I was autistic, so I didn't consider any other living arrangements besides full-time independence. I assumed that the challenges of living alone were just a normal part of self-development because I didn't know any better. I had no support system and no advocates. I worked full time, learned finance, bought houses and took care of myself including all the cooking, cleaning and executive tasks. I assumed that everyone else found independence equally daunting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I ended up having shutdowns, meltdowns, breakdowns and even a stroke from 30+ years of being independent and bearing that stress on my own, but I still think it was worth it.

I wasn't assessed as autistic until last year in 2018 but there is no way I would trade my independence for any support that family might offer. I'm proud to have been on my own since the age of 18.



greatfixer
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16 Mar 2020, 7:42 am

You can test your knowledge and skills in an independent life. This can help you solve a few problems. The first is information retrieval. You will be able to learn how to use information databases. The second is communication. You must learn how to leave the comfort zone and look for the right solution. People can help you adapt to real life. Educational resources are important instructions that can help you deal with loneliness.



Last edited by B19 on 25 Mar 2020, 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.: Spammer (same as the one below)

IstominFan
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16 Mar 2020, 8:57 am

Full independence as others have it with my own house and a husband, is unattainable for me.

However, I do have my own life and interests and a rich, full life with a variety of experiences. I am independent in that way. That wasn't the case ten years ago.



Mark Ultra
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13 Apr 2020, 2:41 pm

So interesting topic! I'm really thinking about this theme



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