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.