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Helping Your Adult Child With Aspergers To Live Independently

If you are in a situation where your adult Aspergers (high functioning autistic) child is living with you and it is mutually beneficial (or at least mutually respectful), then this article may not be for you. However, if your Aspie is overly-dependent or lives at home in a situation that has become uncomfortable or intolerable, then read on…

Over time, some moms and dads of adult Aspergers children have moved from “caring for” their Aspie to “care-taking” – sometimes well into their adulthood. Many moms and dads are held hostage by emotions (e.g., anger, frustration, disappointment, guilt, fear, etc.) and frequently wonder what will happen if they do throw their adult child out of the nest without a net.

Here are some concrete steps to help that adult child gain the self-reliance needed to move out of your house:

1. If you’re living with a partner who is not on the same page as you, it can make putting these steps into effect extremely difficult. You can only control yourself. If it’s causing serious conflict, you may want to seek marriage counseling regarding how the two of you can come to a mutual agreement.

2. Identify ahead of time what you’re willing to follow through with, what your boundaries are, and which emotional buttons will most likely get you to cave-in. One parent stated, “I’m okay with my adult child (now 20-years-old) not having a cell phone or video games, but I don’t want him to be homeless living on the street.” That parent knew she would allow her Aspie to live in her home without the benefit of unearned privileges, so that is the boundary that was set. It was later revealed that this young adult Aspie decided those “extras” were important, so once his parent stopped providing free handouts (i.e., giving him money for this and that), he was inclined to go get a job and start paying his own way – including renting an apartment.

3. Instead of picturing your adult Aspie as a fragile individual who will probably fail on multiple levels when he leaves the nest, think of him as fully capable of functioning on his own in the real world. Our emotions can cause us to be so afraid of what will happen to our Aspergers children that we think of them as kids, rather than grown-ups. In reality, your adult Aspie is a grown-up —equal to you, and equally capable of making it in this life. Thinking of him as incapable is actually a disservice to him and keeps you in parental “care-taking mode.” Your Aspie may be uncomfortable with some of the steps you’re taking that encourage more responsibility – but that’s okay. This is what he needs to experience in order to make changes within himself. Changing your viewpoint will help you strengthen those “guilt” and “fear” emotional buttons.

4. Many grown-up Aspies are struggling to become independent in today’s generation. True, the economy is bad, and our country is experiencing hard times. But that’s nothing new. We’ve gone through recessions and depressions in the past. The difference with many young Aspergers adults in today’s generation seems to be the “sense of entitlement” and the “aversion to sacrificing” in order to make it. Today, society is all about technology and instant gratification. But, it’s not too late to teach our adult Aspergers children the value of delayed gratification and working for things they desire. It’s okay for them to be uncomfortable and realize they have the ability to survive hard times through self-reliance. If your guilt or fear buttons start reacting, remember this: we give our “special needs” children these lessons out of love.

5. Make your boundaries clear. If your adult son lives in a separate residence, but still depends on you as a source of income, set some boundaries. State what you will and will not pay for. If you need to start small and work your way up, that’s okay. If you just can’t stop buying groceries yet, because you know you won’t follow through with allowing your son to eat at soup kitchens, then start with things like cell phones, money for gas, cigarettes, movie money, etc. It is his responsibility to locate resources (e.g., friends, churches, government assistance, etc.). Your adult Aspie can always apply for assistance through government programs (e.g., food stamps, rental assistance, etc.) if he is truly unable to locate work and support himself.

6. Some moms and dads have adult kids at home who are abusing them verbally or even physically. You have the right to live in your own home, free from abuse, intimidation or disrespect. Anytime someone treats you in this way, they are violating a boundary – and sometimes violating the law. It’s your right to establish personal boundaries that keep you physically and emotionally safe.

7. Another strategy to help your “dependent” child is to make it more uncomfortable to depend on you than to launch. A huge part of making your adult Aspie uncomfortable is to stop paying for all the “extras” (i.e., things he views as necessities that really aren’t). Even in today’s world, he can live without cell phones, internet, haircuts, video games, and any other leisure activity you can name. Some ways to cope with little money include the following:
  • He can eat cheap (e.g., macaroni & cheese, Ramen noodles, etc.).
  • He can take the bus.
  • If he doesn’t have the money for cigarettes or alcohol– he doesn’t get them.
  • He can get clothes from Salvation Army or Goodwill.
  • and so on…

8. If your adult Aspie lives in your home, draw up a contract that specifies the terms of his living there. This is an agreement between two grown-ups. Don’t think of him as your kid. Instead, picture him as a tenant. Then you’ll be less likely to have your emotional buttons triggered. An adult Aspie may decide he doesn’t like the contract and will decide to live elsewhere. More power to him! The important thing to remember is that your Aspie is not “entitled” to live in your home past the age of eighteen. It’s a privilege, and you have every right to set some realistic limits.

9. In some situations, adult Aspies have literally worn out their welcome by taking and taking – financially and emotionally – without giving in return. Thus, you don’t have to feel guilty about moving your child into independence so you can have your own life back. You have the right to:
  • enjoy peaceful evenings in your own home
  • have the environment you want in your home
  • spend your money on things for yourself

You’ve raised your son or daughter. He/she is an adult now. You are not expected to provide for him/her any more than your parents are expected to provide for you as a grown-up.

10. Many adult Aspergers children make a career out of asking their mom or dad to provide things for them that they can’t afford themselves. Most people aren’t going to provide these things for your adult Aspie. There are no free hand-outs in the “real” world. But too many moms and dads provide free hand-outs to their adult children, which leads these children to believe that free hand-outs are everywhere (what a shock when they find out differently!). Your adult Aspie can live without an Internet connection in his apartment (he can get online at the local library); he doesn’t have to text (he can write letters); his hair can get really, really long (he doesn’t “need” a haircut).

11. Remember to strengthen your emotional buttons. If your adult Aspie typically pushes the “guilt” and “sympathy” buttons in order to stay dependent and comfortable, prepare yourself for what’s coming and create a plan on how you’ll handle it (e.g., make some note cards or adopt a slogan to remind yourself that you have the right to have your own home, free from negativity or meeting another adult’s needs).

12. Contact the local court to get information about the legal avenues you can pursue to help your adult Aspie move out. Many states require you to serve a “Notice to Quit” to any grown-up living in your home. If your adult Aspie still refuses to leave, you may need to follow up with an Eviction Notice that gives a deadline for him to move out. If your Aspie still refuses to leave, the police can enforce the eviction by notifying him that he will be escorted out of the house in 24 to 48 hours. Eviction steps are definitely a form of tough love, but remember to think of your adult child as a tenant.

13. It’s okay for your adult Aspie to be uncomfortable – we’ve all been uncomfortable and survived. It’s actually a good thing – and necessary for change. “Change” occurs when things feel uncomfortable, out of balance, or unsteady for the adult child. It’s what motivates him to find his equilibrium again, through employment, returning to college, offering his services through odd jobs, or whatever it takes to get the things in life that he wants.

14. Assess where you are right now. Ask yourself these questions:
  • Are you in a place where your boundaries are being crossed and you need to establish some limits?
  • Are you willing to allow your adult Aspie to live in your home, within those limits, as he moves toward being more independent?
  • Do you see your adult Aspie as wanting to become independent, or as simply being more comfortable allowing you to take care of all the responsibilities?
  • Has the situation become so intolerable – perhaps even explosive – that your main concern is getting your adult Aspie out of your house, as quickly and safely as possible?

15. If you are afraid of violence or other repercussions from your Aspie because of these steps, it’s helpful to locate your local resources on domestic violence and contact your local court regarding your right to a restraining order. Safety should always comes first.

Launching Adult Children With Aspergers: How To Promote Self-Reliance

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

My significant other's son is 32
and unable to meet his bills each month and seemingly ok with this.
His parents are afraid if they did not help
him financially that he would be content to be homeless. He has a low paying
job without benefits....parents bought his cars.....help with his
rent.....intervene
in crisis.....roomies skip and leave the mess.... Quite frankly we are all at our
wits ends....
and it is so difficult because you don't want to see your loved one suffer and
yet he doesn't seem to want to do anything for himself??

Anonymous said...

We have a 26 year old son living in our basement who was diagnosed with asperger syndrome about 14 years ago. We have tried setting him up numerous times for work, college etc. We have even gone as far as to buy a condo and a car for him to get him launched into the adult world. All our efforts have been to no avail it seems. He is again living in our basement and his only real desire is to play video games. Recently, we were able to get him enrolled into a government assisted training program, 4 weeks of classroom training, which is followed up by 8 weeks of guaranteed work at a local business (fitness facility for him). He completed the 4 weeks of training and was overly enthusiastic about getting started. He has been at the job now for 4 weeks and we are seeing the typical pattern for him. He is getting ready, in the morning, with less and less time to make it for work on time. He is also circumventing their system at the gym. He tells them that he is checking security tapes from the day before and is, we suspect, spending time on the internet, playing video games. If this turns out like every other job, they will find out and warn him. He then, typically, starts giving them poorer and poorer work to the point of where they get so angry at him, that they fire him and never want to see him again. Previously, employers have become so frustrated with him that it seem that they actually hate him. We are suspecting that he sabotages his job so that there will be no possible chance of reconciliation. He then can come home and play the video games, unhindered. It seems that he is just completely addicted to the internet. We have tried to employ him on our own farm but it's just too frustrating, trying to get him out of the house in the morning to actually do some work. Unbelievably frustrating!
We read some of the testimonials on your website and were hopeful and yet skeptical that there might be any hope for him. My wife is thinking that the book would be a good idea and I just wanted to have one question answered.

We don't need another disappointment to add to frustration in our home. I'd certainly appreciate an honest answer from you. I'll be waiting for a reply from you.

Anonymous said...

My son is 20 yrs. old has borderline asperger's (diagnosed at 18), ADHD (diagnosed at 7), and although I was never told except through reading his medical files ODD at the age of 18. I can see some anger, but nothing that couldn't be contributed to the other two diagnoses. He is not agressive if anything he's more passive. Can't seem to be without a girlfriend. If he breaks up with one, he has another (online mostly) before the end of the day. I homeschooled him during high school because he is a follower (starting following the goths). I got him involved with the Catholic homeschool group and although we had our typical mom -teacher-son-student disagreements. He did find and graduated. He has had 4 or 5 car scraps and two expensive accidents. He does not take any medication. He had wanted to go into the Coast Guard but because he is an Aspie, we were told he couldn't join. We never filed out any papers. He is not motivated and went to the tech school here, but didn't finish the semester as he wouldn't study and was failing. That was one year ago. He got mad at me and moved out to live with his girlfriend and her mom. (A big mistake as he calls it. ) He moved back home 2 months later. He has works at our wine part-time for pocket money as that is all we could afford to have him work. By the end of last summer I told him he had three choices: go back to school, get a full-time job, or go to Job Corps. He has unrealistic goals that he can make it big in the music industry although he doesn't play an instrument and can barely sing. His friends think the same thing. They've never had a gig. I told him I wouldn't discourage him, but that he had to have a backup occupation while trying to pursue his dream of being on stage and touring. We are now waiting for an opening at Job Corps and he plans to be trained as an electrian. By concern is the transitioning into a very strict atmosphere which I believe he needs. He keeps his room messy and his personal hygenine isn't the best. The administration knows he has these diagnoses and are willing to help him. It is a self-paced program which I think is the best for him and then again maybe not. He does have a girlfriend he met through a Job Corps meeting and she is very motivated (almost OCD) about it. She is very neat and tries to be perfect in everything.

After rereading this it sounds like it's not bad at all. I guess I'm trying to find way of helping him transition into a place where kids who have had many problems live. He is not street smart, he's had unprotected sex (contrary to my Catholic belief), and is definitely not very motivated. He sleeps late and does few chores around the house. His decision-making skills definitely need help!! We need help him become more independent. I have seem some change for the better in the passed few months. I guess he's just a late bloomer 20 going on 18.

Anonymous said...

My son is now 25 and has aspergers. Diagnosed at 5 with what they thought as ADHD enrolled in all the EBD classes until middle school. He then decided he didn't want to go anymore. Social worker from the school tried to get him out of the house but couldn't. Then finally he wanted to go back they then diagnosed him with Aspergers and the proper classes. He then said no again to school he stayed home played video games and tried working. Got fired from grocery stores ( He thought he could leave and get a haircut in the middle of working) I did tell him to get one but after work! I can laugh now. He wanted contacts to go back to school Sure I said. So he finally graduated from high school at age 20. Vocational rehab school for 1 year he loved it. He did get suspended for stealing money at his new job there at the store. Came home with an attitude he graduated from college. He was able to move to my parents basement nice apt to live alone. He is trying to figure this out. Didn't want to do dishes and wanted to play video games all day. We gave him 2 plates 2 cups and silver ware 3 pans to cook with. He has to do dishes now to eat. He now decided to go to college to learn computers his favorite. I was afraid he would fail but said ok you give it a try. He is now in his second semester learning PC repair. Finally he is learning to manage his anger. He is finally learning to love life. He was depressed and sometimes thinking no one liked him. He has 3 friends that are just like him. I think these kids are just wanting to be reassured they are just like everyone else. He did finally learn to drive got his license. Still we try to make him drive but he is fearful. One day he will outgrow that. Please encourage your child to do the best he can. Take him places and include him in things to broaden their view. He may not want to go but try and keep asking. God is good These guys are just late bloomers! But they bloom little by little everyday.

Anonymous said...

I write you from Italy. I am the mother of a 22 years old boy with Asperger Syndrome.
I write you for your help.
During the adolescence we had big problems with our son. He began to have obsessive behaviours, violent rages, aggressive and destructive behaviours. We were forced to seek a structure to move him away from the family. When he was seventeen, we found a structure far from our town (1000 km). He has spent the last five years in this residential centre. In the first two years the situation improved but after the situation began again to deteriorate. He began again to have aggressive and destructive behaviours. Our son that has always asked a lot of questions, often repetitive questions, began not to speak anymore and to spend all the day in his room and accept other people in the room just for very short time. If they stayed longer he began to attack them.
In the last year he started again to speak, he began again to make a lot of questions, often repetitive. He began to come back home more often.
It seems he is really afraid about his aggressive and destructive behaviours. Often when he is at home he repeat “I do not have to be aggressive”. He speak often about aggressive behaviours “When I attack people, they try to block me” and he wants that we answer that “They did well. You cannot beat anybody”. It seem to us that his capacity to control himself has improved compared to when he was sixteen, but there are moment when he gives slaps or he break something.
He is also obsessed about death, he speak always about his grandfather and great grandmother that are dead, but also about all the people that he know that are dead, also historical figures. If he listen the music of Morzart, he ask “Is he dead? (he know that he is dead) Why? I am sad that all people have to die”.
Often he speaks about past, saying “I would like to came back when……”.
We are trying to find a residential centre near where we live, but there are not a lot of structures and often they prefer not to have people with behaviour problems.
Can you give me suggestions about how I can help my son?

Anonymous said...

My son was originally diagnosed with PDD at the age of 5, and then to Autism Spectrum Disorder at 18. He is now 23, and our home is a battle zone, my marriage in tatters, and I feel like a failure as a parent. He is taking Zoloft and Xanax for depression, anxiety, and severe OCD. His new specialist wants to start him on Abilify (I have heard and read both good and bad reviews for this medication). We have had a professional behavior specialist coming into our home to help us the past three months, have implemented a behavior plan that is giving him rewards for just not verbally abusing me and taking a shower once a week (which takes up to 6 hours most of the time). I have come to the end of my rope. I love my son, but his controlling, aggressive, moody and disrespectful behavior is destroying our home. He will not communicate with me. I have had to modify MY behavior to keep from triggering his. This is not life, it is survival at it's lowest form. My health is deteriorating and the stress has gotten to the point where I am now on medication for anxiety.

Tiffany said...

Mine is a senior in high school. He treats our family like crap, but is pretty nice to others. I agree with every word in this article and totally empathize with every comment. It's helpful to see others going through the same thing and that it's not my fault he's a liar and irresponsible and has no interest in accomplishing anything at all. When he graduates, he has to move out. He is cruel to everyone in our house, and we shouldn't have to put up with it, especially his siblings who are miserable when he's around. But my spouse has given up and thinks it's hopeless and that the boy can never be on his own... yet I'm to the point of saying that after he graduates, either he goes, or the other kids and I go. I can't take this anymore.

Unknown said...

Abilify will help. It'll take several weeks to get into his system. Try to gain respite care and set boundaries. Examplevthis roller coaster isn't working and try to stay calm. Take a time out to reflect prior to speaking

sanam arzoo said...

Great information. Thanks for providing us such a useful information. Keep up the good work and continue providing us more quality information from time to time. Dad's Army

Warrior said...

After reading through the comments I see several patterns... but the most disturbing are the use of the term kid or boy.... and the mention that parents are treated like crap and abused in their own homes.

My son will be 20 in a few days and has yet to graduate high school. I absolutley refuse to entertain parent/teacher meetings or bail him out of situations (last was asking teachers on his behalf to allow extra time to complete projects - which he made no effort to complete anyway)

I agree with the insights of the author above. Our sons and daughters are capable of venturing into adulthood if only we would just let them. If they want to be homeless, live below their means, not shower etc... then so be it. Stop making your adult children an extension of you... Stop trying to fix them and troubles in their lives because you believe you failed... because you have guilt that overrides your own sense of worth.

Have I had days where I cried for my son? Yes! However we are given the tools to survive! The best thing we can do for our sons and daughters is give them a foundation and trust that all we have instilled in them will guide them and keep them.

My son is currently out of the house and basically said F you to me and his stepfather before he left to live with my father to bond and learn IT. Well guess what? It's been 3 weeks and he has already shown his true colors to my father. My father "checked" him on an issue and my son said that he would "let that slide". My father was dumbfounded, but assured me that he wouldn't let his smart remarks go again. I agreed. If he wants to be disrespectful and buck up against his grandfather... then he deserves whatever comes from the other side. The world is harsh and we have a tendency to shelter and baby aspies.... Especially mothers... I know I have! But to what good? To what gain?

I also see a theme of video game playing, depression, anger and escapism. I will NO longer excuse ANY of the above. I also won't be afraid in my own home. Do you know I found myself hiding every knife and sharp object in the house? No way to live! It is nothing for my son to cost me hundreds and hundreds of dollars in cell phone bills because he chooses NOT to control his data usage. No more phone... no more video games. Not on my hard earned dime. Especially when he takes no initiative to pull weight around the house or get a job.

He barely showers... doesn't get haircuts and his teeth are deteriorating. I definitely believe autism/aspergers is a perfect storm of genetics and environment (food, chemicals, toxins). My son's father has Aspergers as well. I didn't know it at the time, but his obsession with music with no plan to make it work for him, his unwillingness to work, his deteriorating teeth, his nomadic ways, sense of entitlement and uncanny nack for trying to live off of women... led me to Aspergers. At 22 I was going through my own depressive state after the divorce of my parents and have always tried to fix people. I have learned so much about myself through hard knocks, failed relationships and my children.

It has been a journey.. but it's been my journey. I have to define it.... not my adult children.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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