Help Adults with Autism Thrive

You Aut to Know: What Helps Adults with Autism Thrive

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One of my biggest concerns, like most others out there, is about the future. We all deserve one, and many of us try our best to build it. Whether it’s our career, finances, social life, or elsewhere, every one of us wants to grow and succeed―in short, we all want to thrive, especially once we reach adulthood. But for people with autism who’ve reached the age of twenty-one and beyond, “adulthood” and “thriving” are seldom said in the same breath; the benefits vanish, the safety net stops, and adults with autism are often left high and dry. This, combined with a greater tendency to become overwhelmed by all of life’s demands, creates a scenario that all but guarantees severe hardship. It’s an injustice that’s gone on for long enough, so for this article, I’m going to explain exactly what it takes to help adults with autism thrive so they are able to cope with life and remain healthy, functioning members of society.

Continual Supervision

Having someone be there to assist an adult with autism truly can make or break their success in life. Why? The truth is people with autism have trouble with autonomy, decision-making, and maintaining the necessary levels of awareness that come with self-discipline, thereby requiring some sort of third party micromanagement, be it from a friend or family member, or even possibly a social worker or therapist. Supervision for those with autism is also crucial because we can be prone to high levels of distraction and losing our train of thought. It even happens to me! Whenever I write an article for you all to read, sometimes I wish I had somebody redirecting me every time I get distracted and my mind wanders off. It makes the whole process take at least twice as long and at times it frustrates me; however, I’m able to overcome it in general, which is unfortunately a luxury that not many on the spectrum have. So, if you know anyone with autism who’s struggling to get something done, all it can take is just sticking by for moral support to see it through.

Limitation of Variables

If there’s one thing you need to know about the way people with autism think, it’s this: We see too much! What do I mean by that? Basically, having autism means that we pick up on even the smallest of details no matter what we’re doing, and this is often more of a weakness than a strength. At any given moment, there are usually a bare minimum of dozens of variables that someone with autism would notice, and this number can easily go into the hundreds depending on the situation. It can all be so disorienting! That’s why it’s important to try to limit this number as much as possible. For example, one obvious solution is to make sure there’s not much noise; a lot of people with autism are sensitive to noises both soft and loud―a pair of headphones could easily solve that! Or when it comes to employment, to list another example, it’s a good idea to pick a job that has few factors to consider, such as dishwashing or cash handling. One time, I’d made the mistake of working an overnight stocking position at Toys R Us. I thought I could handle it, but I quickly learned otherwise; trying to sort through literally fifty variations of a Barbie or Minnie Mouse toy with fluorescent lighting and holiday music was a lot more of a challenge than I realized! The same holds true for others with autism. Regardless of the scenario, fewer variables matter. For more on this topic, watch the following video from Asperger Experts to learn about how sensory issues can put adults with autism into “defense mode.”

A Busy and Predictable Schedule

We all know the saying “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” And yet, how many of us truly believe it? It’s more than just an expression, and it really applies when autism’s involved. Remember how I said too many variables can be bad for those with autism? Well, the opposite is also true, but in a different way. Given how autistic individuals can become distressed over even the smallest of details, they can naturally want to retreat and withdraw so that they no longer have to deal with anyone or anything. While this is understandable, it can cause problems of its own as well because it then becomes too easy for those individuals to get used to doing nothing; what then ensues is a form of inadvertent laziness and a profound reduction of an already-low threshold for new and novel stimuli, where even the simplest of demands registers as some kind of intrusion and violation in their minds. The only surefire way to prevent either extreme is a busy and predictable schedule, preferably via a mix of hobbies, social interactions, household chores, and employment. Make sure it’s things that the person with autism wants; if his or her favorite activity is playing with technology (computer, iPad, etc.), then have some room for that, and also include certain activities that he or she might also enjoy, like swimming or even just a walk in the park. But make sure it takes up the majority of the day every day, no matter what. That might seem like a lot, but if it’s largely enjoyable and anticipated, then this has a very positive impact. Adhering to such a schedule results in a lot of fulfillment for all parties involved.

Conclusion

Life, regardless of how it goes, is quite demanding. It’s taxing enough for people in general, but for adults with autism, there’s no comparison. Yes, having autism has its own advantages, but that’s only when our needs are met and not cast aside. That’s why if you follow my advice and share this article, the lives of autistic adults might start to improve. It’s not getting any easier, so we all need to do our part. Once we do, we can all thrive in the end.


2 Comments

  1. Mary Tormey
    Mary Tormey12-13-2016

    Help is not helping, I need someone to fight for my rights, not tell me it is against the rules for a person like me to have safe food and housing and I am really sick of people who make a living wage telling me I have to starve or sit in poop because the food and water I need is too expensive. My brother was getting prescription weight gain supplements, he was allergic to when he died because the policies and cold equations said it was against the rules for him to have food he could eat.
    All I ever really needed was basic rights.I have been the victim of fiduciary abuse my whole life. Just having clean water and safe food is the most important thing and I am sick of the medical industry using symptoms of their abuse to deny me basic rights. I’m a million dollar baby with plenty of training and education.

  2. Robert Vincelette
    Robert Vincelette12-28-2016

    I think this is dangerous. Who or what kind of people will take over and micromanage our lives for us? Will it be some kind well-meaning bully who “knows what is best for us” who will take over our finances and run us into debt by finding legal ways to steal from us “for our own good”? Will it be someone who will choose our culture for us and if we do not cooperate with, “You don’t need that ticket to the opera or the Mahler symphony because the songs of the Eagles are good enough for everybody else so they are good enough for you.” Will it be the narcissist who is attracted to autistic people the way sexual predators are attracted to disabled children who cannot successfully complain that they want the sexual privacy of their bodies because they are dismissed as nature’s mistakes and it costs them their credibility to ask for help? Will it be the goody-two-shoes who tells the autistic victim of bullying, “It’s your fault that you brought the bullying and loss of that job upon yourself by your refusal to make a little compromise and tolerate a little bit of cigarette smoke just this once without making trouble over your narcissistic demands that you are too good to keep your mouth shut like everybody else who is willing to pay the price to get along? Will it be the violates of our bodies as viciously as the sexual abuser by saying, “You don’t need to be so rigid about that bodybuilding obsession or yours. missing your workout just this once won’t kill you, and why can’t you eat normal like the rest of us. Don’t you realize how insensitive you are to the emotional needs of other people whom you offended and whose culture and way of life you insulted by refusing to join them for a happy meal at McDonald’s? You didn’t have to say ‘I don’t eat that kind of food’ when you could have told a little white lie and said that you were not hungry. And it is just not normal to say that if you had to have a belly that sticks out you would not want to live because that kind of territorial possessiveness of your body and your shallow superficial rigidness that nobody else who is normal worries about will only make you enemies and make you your own worst enemy. Therefore, because we care about you and because we love you are taking all that away from you for your own good and you owe us better gratitude for all the sacrifices that we made for you.”
    If that is what I have to submit to in order to survive, thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want to survive if I can’t have my own autonomy and my own human dignity.

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