The Wrong Planet Guide to Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum

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alex
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26 Aug 2018, 4:33 pm


When I was 19 years old, I packed up my things, put them in my Dad’s car, and we drove two and a half hours to my new living situation, a college dorm. It was one of the most exciting and scariest moments in my life. He helped me unpack my things, made sure I was settled in, and we said our goodbyes. I was finally living away from home.

For many autistics on the spectrum, moving out from your parents house and living independently can seem like a daunting task. We like routines and familiarity so any change can be ...



Fnord
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26 Aug 2018, 5:12 pm

Good article.

You developed your independence in stages. That's probably the best way to do it.

Your experience highlight two issues that are also important to dating: (1) It's important to get used to dealing with people in general before trying to deal with a "steady" relationship; and (2) The first relationship is not likely to be permanent.

We can read through the history of WP and see people who seem to expect their first relationship to be THE relationship for the rest of their lives. Breakups suck, but they are an inevitable part of building the skills that are necessary for later, more committed relationships.

Anyway, that's my Cr0.02 worth.


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BeaArthur
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26 Aug 2018, 7:23 pm

Thanks for posting that article, Alex.

I see independence as one of the biggest challenges for autistic adults. You were fortunate that your parents eased you into that with only your best interests in mind.


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goldfish21
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26 Aug 2018, 10:19 pm

You were roommates with John Elder Robinson? That might explain some things. Really liked his autobiography, disagree with him on a key point.

Independent living is pretty good for anyone's growth. A lot of NT's lives are stunted by staying home too long, too. Too bad it's just so damned expensive & would come at the cost of other goals and having a car on the road, which I like for freedom purposes. I've been renting from my parents for the last ~6 years and it works out okay for all of us. Extremely common living situation, even for NT's, where I live because annual incomes are in the tens of thousands while houses cost Millions, soooo.. plus I'd rather my rent money pay some bills for my parents than make some slumlord richer while I can't trust my roommates or their friends not to steal from me.


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ASS-P
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27 Aug 2018, 10:34 am

...I don't know that that will ever happen now :( . Especially now that I am old and crippled :cry: . It could depend on how.you mean " independently "...


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27 Aug 2018, 12:26 pm

I always thought about leaving home(my home state) and starting a new somewhere else but the thought of that's both tumultuous and scary.

Same thing with driving too, I would love the freedom but I have this deep seeded fear that my clumsiness and forgetfulness will lead to me hurting someone and the responsible thing to do might be not to drive at all. I'm interested tho, ls send me the link to that article mentioned in OP



deafghost52
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28 Aug 2018, 1:25 pm

This was a pretty insightful article. Something I don't agree with, however, is "You can always move back home," if it doesn't work out. Couldn't be more patently false in my case, and in fact moving back home most recently almost made me end up being homeless.

Some parents are patient and understanding enough to accommodate a few move-ins when things don't work out - my mother is not one of those parents. We're on better terms now, but I would still definitely be homeless (and perhaps for quite a while longer if it happened again) if I lost my current living situation.

I think something that goes overlooked way too often when it comes to autism and independent living is employment. I have never struggled with any other aspect of living outside of home more than I have with employment. And it's hard because there's so many unskilled, menial jobs near me that would feel like drudgery (and in fact I'm in on right now) and pay as little as possible (sometimes as little as legally allowable), but I aspire to be a composer, which might be a job that's easy to do once I make it happen, but it's exceptionally difficult to make it happen. It probably has a lot to do with networking, which is definitely a skill at which I am sub-par.

Still, thanks for posting this article. I noticed some uncanny similarities, by the way: we were both 19 moving into a college dorm, ended up in a relationship around that time that didn't work out, and had to move in with family after college when looking for jobs.

Keep up the good work!


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Luhluhluh
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28 Aug 2018, 3:35 pm

No kidding, your roommate was John Elder Robison? Wow, I bet you heard some great stories from him - good article, Alex!



alex
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28 Aug 2018, 3:36 pm

Luhluhluh wrote:
No kidding, your roommate was John Elder Robison? Wow, I bet you heard some great stories from him - good article, Alex!

He has many stories to tell that I'm involved in as well.


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28 Aug 2018, 3:39 pm

I was fortunate in one sense that leaving home did not make me nervous. I left home on my 16th birthday with 10 pounds and a sleeping bag and pots and pans. I did share a room though, but luckily the other people in my room and flat were rarely in and neither was I. I left home because I did not want to live by my parents rules as at the time they made no clear sense to me. I was always pretty impulsive though



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28 Aug 2018, 4:02 pm

alex wrote:
Luhluhluh wrote:
No kidding, your roommate was John Elder Robison? Wow, I bet you heard some great stories from him - good article, Alex!

He has many stories to tell that I'm involved in as well.


I'm waiting for the Hollywood buddy comedy which I'm sure will be a big hit :D


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DoniiMann
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28 Aug 2018, 5:18 pm

Having five siblings, I never had a room to myself, so it wasn't a problem. Plus my home was always an unstable environment. Lots of relocating.

My first leaving home event was hitch hiking 140km (about 90 miles) for a dairy job. Easy. Share with one person, boss sets daily tasks in an isolated rural environment.

A year later, in college. Share with one person in dorm room. A few more responsibilities, but still structured and rural. Easy because all students were interested in the same subject.

Years later I share-housed with up to six Goths. I eventually took over co-ordinating the bills, rent, etc. Everyone had their own room. Shared communal spaces, eg kitchen, TV, etc. Still easy, common interests.

Married since 2002. Not so easy with demands on personal time and aspirations, mostly because of kids. But they're worth it. I don't have close friends that visit, which is good. I keep friends casual distance.

When I look back I see a fortunate progression. I see how family life and moving constantly prepared me to handle relocating my life and living with small numbers of people. I see how taking over paying bills when I was comfortable to do so has helped me with my current domestic situation.

Small steps in the direction you want to go.



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28 Aug 2018, 5:30 pm

moving is tough...



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28 Aug 2018, 5:37 pm

Thank you for posting this! Independence is something that has been on my mind for a long time now. I’ve been working in a summer camp in the USA for the past 2 months and just now returned to my parents’s house in my country, Argentina. I’ve learned a lot there, about living with other people and about keeping a home tidy and clean. As I’ve graduated from college my parents expect me to get a real job now and move away from home soon. I hope to achieve those goals by the time I turn 25 (I’m 22 now).

I think independent living is a big challenge for most of us, so I’m happy that you shared your success story to encourage us to try it.



marlyn morgan
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29 Aug 2018, 2:27 am

I love that you took advice from folk on how to fit in.

I got a late diagnosis of aspergers so I beat myself up about how useless I was at life. Now I think Wow ! you did well. Now I have my own teenagers and theyre all leaving home and getting jobs and friends and Im so impressed with them but it makes me look back on my youth and laugh. I have been dependent on the State my whole life. Left home in the late 70's when there was high unemployment and so it was quite usual to be claiming dole. I moved into my boyfriend's place at 19 so that was cheating a bit. It was like a squat with punks and I hated sharing so got my own place through social housing and have kept in social housing ever since.
You're right, if you have the same interests with folk then its easy to live with them. Just being social is not a formula for success for us. In fact when I lived with my husband the only way the relationship worked was for me to dive into what he was doing and become a musician. I had some success with running conservation groups, and later, singing for the Terrified and now I have a colourful travelling ecosystem garden which everyone loves! Again, shared interests. My husband DID show me how to socialise with anyone. And they say, because Im a woman, I learnt by mimicry. I still prefer to not have my friends pop round. In fact I hate it but Im fine with my children now theyre older and they stay in their rooms!! !! I have forced myself to become tactile and we have sofa days and always eat round the table. They tend to clean the house properly cos I just let it slide.
But Im still claiming benefits. Thats my whole life ! 8O