As my students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were in their final years of high school, their parents and teachers would often ask me what their living options would be once they graduated from high school and reached adulthood.
This post answers their questions as well as yours regarding independent living options for adults with ASD.
My answer to their questions is that there are numerous options, but it really comes down to 3 different types of independent living options.
If I could wave a magic wand for adults on the autism spectrum (and anyone really), it would be that they can have the most ideal and individualized independent living situation that they require and would thrive and grow in.
To get as close as possible to the magical results of a magic wand, consider these questions as you read about the 3 independent living options:
Supports and Services:
Can my child live alone safely?
Can they take care of their personal hygiene needs?
Can they organize and pay their own bills?
Can they go grocery shopping?
Can they cook their own meals?
Do they need behavioral supports?
Can they manage their own medication?
What will help pay the rent?
Does your child need access to public transportation?
Do they want to be able to walk to recreation areas, shopping, and other community activities?
Do they want to live near family members?
Do they need to be near their job or volunteer site?
Interests and Preferences:
Does your child want to live alone or with a roommate?
Do they want a pet?
Do they want their own bathroom?
Do they want to cook their own meals?
Do they want the freedom to come and go as they please?
Do they want to live with people of the same gender, different gender, or both?
I created these categories based on how each are organized, whether by the adult with ASD themselves, a community organization, peers, adult services, or by family members.
1. COORDINATED IN THE COMMUNITY.
With changes in disability policy over the past 30-40 years, we’re seeing more adults on the autism spectrum live on their own.
Some also live in housing communities that are organized and coordinated by various sources, sometimes families come together to create a community for their adult children, to faith-based organizations, to non-profit organizations.
Community-coordinated independent living options are becoming increasingly popular, with more new ones opening every day.
2. COORDINATED WITH ADULT SERVICES.
These are group homes created and supervised by the state. Staff are hired and trained to work with residents.
There are a variety of levels of group homes – all depending on the state you live in – essentially, what you can think of as a continuum of care.
Some homes are for residents who need a higher level of care and supervision, meanwhile, others may just have a staff member on site in case the very independent residents need anyone to check in with. These programs have extensive wait lists.
3. WITH FAMILY.
Pretty self-explanatory, right?
Adults with ASD often live at home.
In fact, over half of adults with ASD still at home. If you think about your child’s peers, more adults, in general, are living at home. It’s expensive to get a place these days!
But as we do, we often make do. Many families are arranging or even transforming their homes to create spaces that better support their child as an adult.
These homemade apartment suites help provide ownership of a space all one’s own, distinguishes space for everyone, and still supports connection.
So there we have it! 3 types of independent living options for your adult child with ASD.
What options are you considering?
I’m researching more about community independent living options and would love to know if there are any I should look more into!