Being independent comes with a great deal of responsibility. When I left my last independent situation, I thought it would be some time before I would be on my own again, however an opportunity arrived. At times in recent weeks I questioned whether I made the smart decision of being independent again. However, I have came to the realization that I have indeed made the right decision and to not second guess it.
Having the ability to make choices comes with a great deal of responsibility, without a doubt. Sometimes though, it can be the small things that are in reality a challenge. Just because you did things when you lived with your family doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do that every day. For me, one of the sticking points I have with my mother specifically is making the bed on a daily basis. There are quotes that it is a great start to the day, however, in my opinion, I personally feel that it is more essential to do other things like take a shower. For almost four months, I have had difficulty in finding the perfect temperature for taking a shower. This is because I had difficulty understanding the handle to operate it and understanding the length, etc. of the water to warm up. It is more Important for me to make sure that I am clean and have clean clothes on my body.
Parenting choices differ without a doubt, I am thankful for the skills I learned from my parents over the decades of living with them like cooking and cleaning, for example. I may not clean as routinely as them, but I do it. Sometimes the parent’s acceptance of independent choices of this and other things do vary and at times the parent has difficulty in accepting the fact that as long as they are safe and are not in immediate danger of losing their independence, then its fine. Likewise, for the autistic their parent’s opinion can mean the world to them and the last thing they want to do Is hurt their feelings. Additionally, the autistic may not feel like they can avert from the routine they had with their family members because it is what is expected. Whilst reaching true independence is the ultimate goal, as long as the home is fit and the autistic is safe and sound, that is all that matters in the end.
There may a time when supports are needed to be had, and that has to be OK with the individual and it has to be on their terms. The autistic should first and foremost have the ability to make decisions about their habitat because they indeed know themselves and what makes them feel comfortable. This can be practice in preparation for independence by having them incorporate how specifically they want their space (if the can) before becoming independent to be. Let them make decisions, with the carers guidance of course of how the want their space to be. They need that space in order to feel safe and have a place to go when they need to be alone, self-regulate, etc.
I know I covered a great deal last week on the decision on food choice. With that being said, if they do have an understanding of cooking, whether it is made easier for the autistic by microwave cooking or other methods, let them be and let them feel comfortable doing so. However, an attempt should be made when learning to become independent to teach all aspects of the kitchen so they are aware of how to use kitchen appliances along with food safety, expiration, etc.
I want to close with reminding those that care for autistics that independence is not easy for many autistics, however the earlier you instill independence skills in your autistics, the better. They may not be suited for independence, but at least giving those skills a try is crucial in determining that transition from situations that they will have to leave, should the carer no longer have the voice to advocate for their autistic.