Self-Determination is defined as the process by which a person controls their own life. As an adult with autism, this can be a challenge because we always have a reservation in our heads of whether or not we will get in trouble for the choices we make and whether or not they are good decisions.
Typically, when they neurotypical teenager comes of age, they are offered more freedoms than their peers with autism, because our development is typically delayed, oftentimes those that care for us have several reservations about us doing things that those at the age of adulthood do. We are often seen as less than capable of doing things because of setbacks or other things that have happened in our lives that not want those that care for us to want to do things that neurotypical peers our age do.
As a reminder, autism is indeed a spectrum disorder and with that in mind, one who may have the physical age of a adult may not have the cognitive ability as such to know the consequences for their actions. There has to be a realization that in some the ability to cognitively grow into a adult and be able to make adult decisions and be responsible for such may never occur, and there must be safeguards for protecting their safety, although the future may look bleak, we must find what a future may be for individuals who may need more supports as well.
As for me, I have many years of experience of knowing what is right from wrong, what is safe versus unsafe and so forth. Yet, determining what I want to do with my time can become a challenge at times, especially during down time when nothing is scheduled and I do not have to conform to a schedule or event. For a while this past summer I contemplated whether I needed to continue down the path I was going of continuing with a combination of work and day program. However, as summer is coming towards an end, I feel that I need to continue down this path for some time as there are things I need to work on, as having a way to spend my time is one of them.
It isn’t that there are things to do. When one is independent it can be lonely. Having a sense of unneeded anxiety upon the current times doesn’t make it easier. I know I need to get out there and do things. People reach out to me to check in with me, yet I lack the energy to respond. I can do things like realize that if I want that I can go get breakfast and the things I need for the day, yet I cant realize that I have the ability to determine that I can do things at my own free will that are safe and make me feel good. It hurts me and I know as a person with autism I can be an asset beyond the four walls that I am bound by.
I know I need to be involved in activities that include others. I just have anxiety about doing these things and am the king of all excuses about doing them. I know that I am a valuable asset to whatever thing I choose to do. I can be an asset online and my social platforms for this blog’s Facebook and Instagram have proven well in the past weeks reaching milestones of 400 and 700 likes and followers respectively. I can do things from the comfort of my home, but I too need to get out of that comfort zone and be a pillar of the community I love by volunteering and doing something that I enjoy while getting the interaction with others that is needed.
There is also things that as any independent adult needs to do that can become harder for the adult with autism to do. We are not making an excuse at it. Autism isn’t a handicap its just that we process the way we do life’s tasks differently than others and it is challenging. We need prompts and cues to do things and that may seem childish to some, but for us it is a high priority to have these tools at our disposal because it is what makes us function in life. We as adults with autism just want to have the same freedoms and rights to do things as everyone else. We may stuggle at getting started of being a part of something, but once you slowly let us in to your life or circle of activity or group, you will be glad you have us in it. Because when we want to do something and build it into our routine, we will become a valuable asset to your circle or group.