I felt so proud of Ryan for sharing his perspective on living with autism in my last post. I also felt it might be helpful for me to share my views on our latest challenge as we travel the journey of autism together.
Ryan’s cousins moved on to college and living away from home after high school graduation. He sees them, talks to them, and wonders “why am I not living in my own apartment?” He understands that college wasn’t an option for him and thoroughly enjoys his training program. However, he is “stuck” on wanting to live away from the house. He often says “I don’t want to live with you” or “I don’t want to be with you” and becomes agitated. This often feels frustrating, although I understand it’s Ryan’s desire for independence.
The Challenge: Provide Independence Safely
Living on his own at this stage of his life is not a realistic option for him. We talk about the advantages of living with his parents. For instance, the power recently went out. Ryan and I went into various rooms lighting candles and placing flashlights strategically. Afterwards, we talked about how, if he had been living by himself, this would have been very difficult. This is one example I shared with Ryan of an advantage to living with someone, or as he describes it, a “precaution”. However, he continues to get “stuck” on wanting to live away and not be with mom and dad. I’ve been searching for the answer of how to resolve this dilemma.
The Solution: Create a “Studio Apartment”
Independence for Ryan feels like he has own place and is making his own decisions. To help him experience this independence, I explained to Ryan that many young men live in a studio apartment – one room that serves as a bedroom, living room, and kitchen. His bedroom is now his “studio apartment.” He can choose to go there to watch TV, use his iPad and relax. Second, we identified all the jobs that need to get done in his apartment (laundry, cleaning, cooking etc.) Ryan chose what he wanted to do and then which jobs I would do (I’ve been assigned the cooking). We are still in the trial and error phase as we only began last week. It is a work in progress, and it would feel fabulous to see this idea fulfill Ryan’s desire.
Ryan is transitioning into adulthood and there will be bumps in the road. However, I feel hopeful that he will succeed as he has in the past. The journey continues.
You have the best ideas, Maureen. There is such a need for something for all of these young adults who are reaching adulthood. It is something that needs to be looked into and acted upon.
Thanks for continue to follow the blog Sallie. There will be a tsunami of adolescents turning adults with limited services available. We need to advocate for these young people because with support they can all be successful.
What an excellent idea! Rhys craves some independence too, but is so profoundly autistic (and almost non-verbal) that independence will never happen for him – perhaps SN housing in which he can live semi-independantly with other autistic adults. He does love to help in the kitchen though, and apparently makes a decent cup of tea!
Thank you for sharing Ryan’s life and progress with us; I love following 🙂
Thanks for following and for the comment! I’d enjoy hearing about any successes you’ve had with your son. Ryan liked to “chef” in the kitchen as long as it’s his favorite foods!
The “studio apartment” is such a wonderful idea and great way for Ryan to achieve independence. I love that you were assigned the cooking 🙂 You do have the best ideas! ~Nadine Merry
Nadine, thanks for following the blog! I really don’t have the best ideas. It is simply the knowledge base I’ve accumulated over the last 19 years, a willingness to think outside the box, and a belief in the trial and error process that will eventually lead to success. As you know, the cup is half full never half empty.