Showing posts sorted by relevance for query young adult. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query young adult. Sort by date Show all posts

29.2.20

How to Get Your Adult-Child with High-Functioning Autism to Live Independently

"How can I motivate my adult son (with high functioning autism) to develop some sense of responsibility and think in terms of becoming a productive member of society?"

If you are in a situation where your adult child with Aspergers or high-functioning autism (HFA) 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 young adult 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 children on the autism spectrum have moved from “caring for” their child 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 son 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 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 child 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 "special needs" children that we think of them as kids, rather than grown-ups. In reality, your adult child 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 child 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 on the autism spectrum 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 and HFA 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 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 child 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.

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

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 child 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 child 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. A young adult 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 child 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 on the spectrum 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 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 child. 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 child 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 child 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).

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

12. Contact the local court to get information about the legal avenues you can pursue to help your adult child move out. Many states require you to serve a “Notice to Quit” to any grown-up living in your home. If your child 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 child 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 child 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 child to live in your home, within those limits, as he moves toward being more independent?
  • Do you see your child 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 young adult out of your house, as quickly and safely as possible?

15. If you are afraid of violence or other repercussions from your son or daughter 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 and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

8.4.13

College Depression in Students with Aspergers and ASD level 1: What Parents Need To Know

College depression is a common problem in young people with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Moms and dads need to understand why the transition to college makes their “special needs” son or daughter vulnerable to depression — and what they can do about it – BEFORE the young adult attempts, and then fails, his or her first semester of college.

“College depression” isn't a clinical diagnosis. Rather, it’s a form of an adjustment disorder (i.e., a type of stress-related mental illness or depression).  Typically, signs and symptoms of an adjustment disorder begin within three months of a stressful life event (in this case, going away to school). Depression, however, may occur at any time.



College students with Aspergers and HFA face many challenges, pressures and anxieties that their “typical” peers do not. Many factors can cause these young people to feel overwhelmed, for example:
  • adapting to a new schedule
  • adapting to a new workload
  • adjusting to life with roommates
  • feeling homesick
  • figuring out how to “fit in”
  • juggling school and employment
  • living on their own for the first time
  • making the transition from adolescence to adulthood

Aspergers and HFA college students dealing with depression are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and perform poorly in school than are their “typical” peers. Difficulty concentrating may cause these young people to have trouble finishing schoolwork, skip classes, lose interest in extracurricular activities – and even drop out and move back home.

Signs and symptoms that an Aspergers or HFA student may be experiencing college depression include:
  • Agitation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Decreased concentration 
  • Distractibility
  • Excessive sleeping 
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness 
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt 
  • Frequent phone calls to the mother or father in which the student declares that he or she wants to drop out and return home
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide 
  • Frustration
  • Indecisiveness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Loss of energy 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities 
  • Restlessness
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble making decisions and remembering things 
  • Trouble with thinking or concentrating

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

Aspergers and HFA college students may have difficulty seeking help for depression out of embarrassment or fear of not “fitting in.” Signs and symptoms also may be more difficult to notice from afar. If moms and dads suspect that their young adult is dealing with college depression, they should talk to him or her about what's going on. Then they should ask him or her to make an appointment with a school counselor or therapist as soon as possible. Many colleges offer counseling services that are extremely helpful in these cases.

Parents need to understand that depressive symptoms may not get better on their own — in fact, they may get worse if not treated. Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health issues or problems in other areas of life. Feelings of depression can also increase the likelihood of substance abuse and the risk of suicide.

In addition to seeking treatment, parents should encourage their adult child to take other steps to cope with college depression. For example:

1. Playing a sport or joining a club can help the young person meet people with similar interests, as well as provide a change of pace from schoolwork.

2. Encourage your son or daughter to take time each day to set priorities and goals. This will help him or her develop a sense of control and confidence. It will also help him or her avoid putting off important class work until late at night, which can lead to fatigue.

3. Encourage your son or daughter to get to know people in his or her dorm and classes. Friends can help your “special needs” adult child to feel more comfortable in a new environment.

4. Spending time alone can help your son or daughter re-energize and feel a sense of control over his or her life.

5. Your adult child may be able to reduce his or her stress level through physical activity, meditation, deep-breathing exercises, long walks or other calming activities.

There's no sure way to prevent college depression in young people with Aspergers and HFA. However, helping these individuals become accustomed to their college campus before the start of the school year can prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by the transition. Encourage your young adult to visit the campus and talk to other students, peer counselors or faculty about what to expect and where to turn for support.

If your college-bound son or daughter has a history of depression, talk to his or her doctor about what kind of counseling options might best help with the transition to college. In addition, help your young person become familiar with campus counseling resources. Remember, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a problem can help prevent college depression from worsening.

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

5.6.17

How to Get Capable Adult Children on the Autism Spectrum to Move Out

“We have a 28 year old son with ASD (high-functioning) who refuses to leave our house. He is a college graduate with a marketable degree, but he refuses to get a real job. He has earned a considerable amount of money playing online poker and just laughs in my face and tells me to shut up when I tell him that gaming is not a way to earn a living. I recently told him that if he was going to support himself by gambling that he needed to find a new place to live. He threw a huge tantrum, got in my face, cussed me out, and dared me to kick him out. On top of everything else, he does not clean up after himself. You’d think we had a 16 year old living here! We are at our wits end. We don't want to strain our relationship with our son by getting the police involved because we love him and have had plenty of good times over the years. But we are getting older, and it’s time for him to go. My wife and I are getting ready to retire and we do not need to spend our retirement dealing with this drama and chaos. How do we get our son to move on with his life in a non-confrontational manner?”

If you’re in a situation where your adult child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or ASD level 1 (over the age of 25) is still living with you, is overly-dependent, or lives at home in a situation that has become difficult or unbearable for you, then now is the time to take action (i.e., today – not tomorrow!).

Many parents wonder what will happen if they throw their adult child with “special needs” out of the nest. They often have trouble knowing how much to help their “suffering” child now that he is an adult. At some level, they may continue to “cushion” him or to “feel sorry” for him, which results in home-life being so comfortable that the child sees no reason to ever leave.

In this all-to-common scenario, parents have “stepped-in” time and time again to over-protect and over-assist their adult child. At a time where “typical” young adults are going off to college, starting a career, renting an apartment, and even getting married – the HFA adult simply wants to live in his parent’s basement and play video games.



Assess where you are right now by answering these questions:
  • Has the situation become so unbearable that your main concern is getting your adult son out of your house as quickly and safely as possible?
  • Do you see your son as wanting to become independent, or as simply being more comfortable allowing you to take care of all his responsibilities?
  • Are you in a place where your boundaries are being crossed and you need to establish some limits?

The longer you wait to muster-up some tough love, the harder it will be to get your son to launch into adulthood. If you’re waiting for things to get better on their own, you’re in for a long wait. You MUST begin the hard work of implementing a few tough love strategies. There is NO easy way out of this, so don’t expect that you can accomplish what you need to in a “non-confrontational manner.” You will have to confront – and be assertive here.

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

What can parents of a young adult on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum do to help him live independently? Here are some simple, concrete steps to take:

1. Make it more uncomfortable to depend on you than to fly from the nest. One way to accomplish this is to stop paying for all the “extras” that your son views as necessities that really aren’t (e.g., cell phone, internet connection, video games, etc.). One mother reported that her 25-year-old son with Asperger’s decided those “extras” were important. Once she stopped providing free handouts (i.e., giving her son money for this and that), he was motivated to go get a job and started paying his own way, including renting an apartment.

2. Learn to say – and stick with – “no”.

3. DO NOT try to shield your son from experiencing the negative consequences and painful emotions associated with his poor choices.

4. Some adult children on the spectrum have literally worn out their welcome by taking and taking – financially and emotionally – without giving in return. Therefore, parents should not feel guilty about moving their grown child into independence so they can have their own life back. Parents have the right to spend their money on things for themselves, to have the environment they want in their home, and to enjoy peaceful evenings with no drama. You’ve raised your son. He’s an adult now. You are not expected to provide for him any more than your parents are expected to provide for you now that you are an adult.

5. Keep an eye out for your son’s guilt-trips.

6. Your HFA son is not a fragile individual who will probably fail miserably when he leaves the nest. As with most other young adults on the “high-functioning” end of the autism spectrum, he is capable of functioning on his own out in the real world. Your worries and doubts may be causing you to be so afraid of what will happen to your son – especially if you continue to think of him as a kid rather than an adult. In reality, your son is equal to you, and equally capable of making it in this life. Thinking of him as incompetent is actually a disservice to him and keeps you in parental “care-taking mode.” He may be uncomfortable with some of the steps you’re taking that encourage more responsibility – but that’s fine. Change is supposed to be uncomfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone strengthens you. This is what he needs to experience in order to make some serious changes within himself. Changing your viewpoint will help you avoid those “guilt” and “fear” emotional buttons.

7. Even with an adult child, parents should discipline rather than nag – and discipline without later reducing or negating the discipline.

8. If your adult son eventually moves into a separate residence, but still depends on you as a source of income, set some limits. State what you will and will not pay for. If you need to start small and work your way up, that’s fine. If, for example, you just can’t stop buying groceries for him yet, then start “pulling the plug” on a few small things (e.g., cell phone, money for gas, cigarettes, movie money, etc.). It is his responsibility to locate other resources (e.g., friends, churches, government assistance, etc.). Your son 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.

9. Know that your HFA son does not always have to be happy in order to have high self-esteem.

10. Make sure that you and your son’s other parent are united and bonded on most issues.

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

11. Many young adults – autistic or not – are struggling to become independent in today’s economy. True, the economy is bad, and our country is experiencing hard times. But that’s nothing new. We’ve gone through recessions and depressions before. The difference with many young HFA adults in today’s generation is 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 your son the value of delayed gratification and working for the things he desires. It’s okay for him to be uncomfortable and realize he has the ability to survive hard times through self-reliance. If your guilt or fear buttons start getting pushed, remember this: You are giving your child these lessons out of love.

12. Pay attention to your feelings of guilt about how you have parented, and know it is a sign that you are – once again – beating up on yourself.

13. When you catch yourself feeling sorry for your “special needs” son, know it is a sign that you are – once again – taking on too much responsibility.

14. It’s okay for your adult son 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. It’s what motivates us to find our equilibrium again – through employment, returning to college, offering our services through odd jobs, or whatever it takes to get the things in life that we really want.

15. When your son needs to be comforted or cheered-up, do so with active listening, empathy, paraphrasing, and validation rather than “giving” him things (e.g., unearned privileges, food, gifts, fun activities, etc.).

16. Your HFA son may have made a career out of asking you to provide things for him that he can’t afford himself. Other people are not going to provide these things for him. There are no free hand-outs in the “real” world. But you may have been providing free hand-outs to your son, which may have lead him to believe that free hand-outs are everywhere (what a shock when he finds out differently!). Your son can live without an Internet connection (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). You get the idea. Make sure you understand the difference between wants and needs.

17. Teach your son ways to cope with little money. For example, if he doesn’t have the money for cigarettes or alcohol– he doesn’t get them. He can take the bus. He can get clothes from Salvation Army or Goodwill. He can eat cheap (e.g., macaroni & cheese, Ramen noodles, etc.).

18. If you are O.K. with your adult child continuing to live at home, but you want him to mature and develop some emotional muscles, draw up a contract that specifies the terms of his living there. This is an agreement between two competent adults. Don’t think of your son as your kid. Instead, view him as a tenant. In this way, you’ll be less likely to have your emotional buttons triggered (e.g., feelings of guilt). Your son is not “entitled” to live in your home past the age of 18. It’s a privilege, and you have the right to set some realistic limits.

19. If your son 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 be free from negativity or meeting another adult’s needs).

20. Understand the motivation behind your son’s “inaction” and resistance to change. When a young adult with HFA feels “incapable,” he will try to feel “capable” by holding on to the “familiar” (e.g., surfing the Internet, playing childhood games, continuing to live at home with mom and dad, staying in bed, failing to find part-time employment, avoiding making plans to continue his education past high school, sitting on the couch, withholding overall involvement, etc.). All of this gives him a sense of being in control. To a parent, the behavior looks like pure “laziness” and lack of motivation. But the young adult views it as the only way to have power over what’s going on around him. The thought of being a “grown-up” with adult responsibilities is overwhelming. Thus, he holds on tightly to his comfort zone, which makes it even more difficult to “launch” into adulthood.

The young adult child who uses resistance as a form of “control” lacks both problem-solving skills and social skills. By implementing some of the suggestions listed above, parents can help their child on the autism spectrum to begin the process of blossoming into a functional, capable, contributing member of society.





Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD
 
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COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…  Help him find an apartment and hire a moving truck. He needs to see what the real world is like...
•    Anonymous said… Do you have another adult child or a trusted friend that can be there with you and help explain to your son that for many reasons it is time for him to move out. Emphasis all the positives for moving out! Good Luck
•    Anonymous said… Does your wife feel the same ?
•    Anonymous said… He doesn't need help or deserve it with the way he is acting
•    Anonymous said… How about making his life not so easy? He is home because its good there. Mom probably cooks, You pay the bills, do his laundry, pickup for him....etc.Only you know what you are doing that shouldn't be doing for a 28 yr old. Maybe cutting the internet so he cant online game. Or how about looking for a different home. One like a duplex or with an in law quarters so your still together but have your own privacy. Hope things work out for you guys.
•    Anonymous said… I love the internet comment.
•    Anonymous said… I think this is a great article with many solid options on 'how' to start the process of transitioning grown children to move on towards independence. Independence feels 'good' and yes it takes work and practice, like everything else in life, but the journey is an important one. Yes, the parental 'guilt' can be overwhelming so thank you for addressing the 'feelings' aspect. At the end of the day, we want our children to be able to be self-sufficient in the real world. That would give me some serious 'peace of mind' . We work in conjunction with a behavioral therapist so the message of independence is being 'echoed' by a supportive professional & it's not just 'mom or dad' being 'mean'. My personal opinion is that if calls to the police or forced evictions can be avoided, it's best for all; however, I'm sure that's not an option for everybody.
•    Anonymous said… I'd pack up and move myself, downsize so he has no choice but to find somewhere else lol
•    Anonymous said… If he's old enough to gamble online, he's old enough to deal with the consequences of his behavior, and that includes taking care of himself. Enabling bad behavior in anyone -- adults or children, and this is no child -- doesn't help anyone and only serves to weaken them in the long run. Out you go.
•    Anonymous said… I'm pretty shocked at the responses from parents. It's quite possible this adult son might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of suddenly moving into complete independence, hence the angry outbursts. Not condoning his behavior, but his brain is not that of a typical 28 year old man. Maybe the parents need guardianship of their adult son, if he is not able to handle the daily stress of life (like self medicating with gambling). Geez. Go learn about autism, folks.
•    Anonymous said… Maybe you could help him find his own place close to you. Our Aspie purchased his own townhouse 2 blocks from us and continues to come to our house every evening after work, but goes home at bedtime. It's worked well for our family. This was part of his 'life plan' though. He had always told me he couldn't be 30 living at home with his mom "that would be weird" -  :-)
•    Anonymous said… Tough love, move his stuff to the porch and change the locks.
•    Anonymous said… We parents make life & home too comfortable and easy, no wonder kids don't want to leave the nest. I would ring the police if they get abusive or violent . Give them a deadline to move out. Get a retraining order if needed.
•    Anonymous said… You need to have him evicted and you should call the police when he is being abusive.
•    Anonymous said… Youve let it go on way too long  🤗 tough love can be a very good thing for both parties.
*   Anonymous said... Talk to him like an adult, kindly, when things aren't heated. Give him a couple of months to save up. Unfortunately for them, their emotions are messed up and many times don't match the situation. He may need so assistance but yes, it's time for him to go. You need peace and type up a written request of his departure, notice to evict, if he's nit taking things serious. This way, you can protect yourself legally. He needs to learn about the real world and he's a decade behind.
 
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19.9.11

Transitioning to Adulthood: Help for Older Teens with Aspergers and HFA

The greatest challenge you will face as a mother or father of an Aspergers or high functioning autistic (HFA) child is supporting him or her through the transition to adulthood. As protective (or over-protective) as you may be, at some point you will be ready for your teenager to leave home to venture out on his own into the adult world.

Of course your relationship with your adult child will continue long after he or she leaves the nest, and your loving support can help with “grown-up” responsibilities.

Is your 18 or 19-year-old teenager ready for adulthood? Answer yes or no to the following questions:
  1. Can your adolescent drive?
  2. Can your adolescent make meals and snacks for himself?
  3. Do you get frustrated with your adolescent's inability to complete projects?
  4. Do you give your adolescent opportunities to make his own decisions?
  5. Do you give your adolescent positive feedback?
  6. Do you listen to your adolescent's problems, make suggestions and then allow him to choose how to proceed?
  7. Do you still pick up after your adolescent when he leaves things around the house?
  8. Does your adolescent clean her bedroom?
  9. Does your adolescent complain when her friends are busy, therefore “there’s nothing to do”?
  10. Does your adolescent do a weekly chore regularly without more than one reminder?
  11. Does your adolescent do her laundry?
  12. Does your adolescent handle stress well?
  13. Does your adolescent handle your direction without back-talk or sulking?
  14. Does your adolescent have a checking account that he handles on his own?
  15. Does your adolescent have a healthy hygiene routine?
  16. Does your adolescent have a job outside of your home?
  17. Does your adolescent know how to make money-saving goals and then achieve them?
  18. Has your adolescent ever taken a CPR or First Aid class?
  19. Has your adolescent used any of the community's resources?
  20. If your adolescent is facing a problem with a teacher, do you allow her to fix it?
  21. Is your adolescent able to ask other people questions without being too shy?
  22. Is your adolescent able to make her own appointments?
  23. Is your adolescent able to plan a trip successfully?
  24. Is your adolescent able to plan out her week effectively?
  25. Is your adolescent comfortable doing things on his own?

If you answered “no” to three of the questions above – it should be a red flag that “life skills” are lacking. If you answered “no” to five or more – then your child may not be ready for adult responsibilities yet.

If your parenting goes as planned, your young adult will - at some point - leave home and live independently. Life skills will help your older adolescent to be independent and live on his own, which is the goal of a successful young adult and her parents. But it isn't easy. Older teenagers with Aspergers and HFA often feel they can take the big step towards independent living without possessing all of the life skills they will need to succeed “out in the real world.”

You can help your teenager be independent by encouraging good habits and helping him learn the life skills it takes to be independent.

Below are 15 life skills your teenager will need to learn in order to be successful at living independently the first time she is on her own:

1. Ability to Find Housing

2. Finding and Keeping a Job— In order to live independently, your adolescent will need to have a job. The job will need to make enough money to cover their living expenses, at minimum. Today's happy young adult has a job that contributes to a high quality of life and not just monetarily.

3. General Housekeeping Skills

4. Goal Setting— Defining what it is you want is called setting a goal. Figuring out and taking the actions you need to get your goal is how you obtain that goal. Both of these are important life skills. Learning how to set and obtain a goal are necessary life skills your adolescent will need to be a happy and successful adult.

5. Health and Hygiene Skills— In order for your adolescent to be happy while they live independently, they will need to be successful at keeping their bodies healthy and clean. These life skills are taught throughout your adolescent's childhood and adolescence by encouraging good hygiene routines and healthy habits.

6. Interpersonal Skills

7. Money Skills

8. Personal Safety Skills

9. Stress Management Skills

10. The Ability to Cope with Loneliness— Coping with loneliness is a very important skill on my list of needed independent living skills for adolescents because every adolescent I've ever known has needed it. Adolescents who know how to recognize loneliness as the temporary feeling it is, use their support system and work through their loneliness do just fine.

11. The Ability to Deal with Emergencies

12. The Ability to Find What You Need in Your Community

13. The Ability to Procure and Cook Food

14. Time Management Skills

15. Transportation Skills— One life skill that adolescents need to learn to become independent but generally leave to their parents or caregivers, is transportation or getting from Point A to Point B.

Does your "special needs" adolescent need to know all of ins and outs of each skill well? No. Your adolescent may even get by not having to know one particular skill at all. For example, a young man who has no idea how to do laundry may have a girlfriend who does. This young man may be able to get his interpersonal skills to help with his household skills by convincing his girlfriend to help with his laundry. But, do your best at teaching your adolescent each skill as if they will need it. This will give them the greatest chance of being successful at living independently the first time they live on their own.

Other points to consider:

When your teen behaves badly, you may become angry or upset with him, but these feelings are different from not loving your teen. Older teens need grown-ups who are there for them. They need people who connect with them, communicate with them, spend time with them and show a genuine interest in them. This is how they learn to care for and love others as an adult.

Older teens need support as they struggle with problems that may seem unimportant to their parents and families. They need praise when they've done their best. They need encouragement to develop interests and personal characteristics.

Adolescence is a time for exploring many areas and doing new things. Your youngster’s interests will change, in academics and recreation. He may experiment with different forms of art, learn about different cultures and careers and take part in community or religious activities. Within your means, you can open doors for your youngster. You can introduce him to new people and to new worlds. In doing so, you may renew in yourself long-ignored interests and talents, which also can set a good example for your youngster.

Older teens need parents or other adults who consistently provide structure and supervision that is firm and appropriate for age and development. Limits keep all kids, including adolescents, physically and emotionally safe.

It is tempting to label all young teens as difficult and rebellious. But adolescents vary as much as kids in any other age group. Your youngster needs to be treated with respect, which requires you to recognize and appreciate her differences and to treat her as an individual. Respect also requires you to show compassion by trying to see things from your youngster's point of view and to consider her needs and feelings. By treating your young adolescent with respect, you help her to take pleasure in good behavior.

Older teens need strong role models. Follow the values that you hope your youngster will develop. Your actions speak louder than words. If you set high standards for yourself and treat others with kindness and respect, your youngster probably will too. As teens explore possibilities of who they may become, they look to their parents, peers, celebrities and others.

21.4.14

Guiding ASD Teens Through Adolescence To Adulthood

Parenting any ASD adolescent has its challenges. When he or she has Asperger’s (AS) or High Functioning Autism (HFA), the challenges are even greater. While most young people on the autism spectrum attend regular school, have friends, and participate in the same activities as their peers, they possess certain traits - and face certain obstacles - that “typical” adolescents don’t. For example:
  • Adolescents on the autism spectrum might imitate what they have learned in books or movies, and their voices might sound flat or boring.
  • Many AS and HFA adolescents prefer to be alone and may not show an interest in making friends. 
  • Some are quiet and withdrawn. 
  • They often don’t understand the importance of eye contact – and may avoid it altogether. 
  • They have trouble understanding jokes or sarcasm.
  • Some AS and HFA adolescents don’t understand socially acceptable ways to express frustration, and may become aggressive or throw tantrums.
  • Most of these young people are socially awkward since they have difficulty processing social cues, (e.g., body language, sarcasm, humor, figurative language, emotional responses, and facial expressions). These nuances of social interaction may fall unnoticed to the adolescent.
  • Sometimes they seem insensitive or look unemotional, but often they just don't know how to express how they're feeling. It doesn't mean they don't have feelings – it’s just more difficult for them to show those feelings or understand the feelings of others.
  • Many of these adolescents have trouble coping with change, and may not react well to changes in routine.
  • Most report that they feel "sensory overload" (e.g., they have heightened senses that can make noises seem louder and more startling, and lights may seem brighter). 
  • Regarding sexuality, special issues that may need to be addressed for these adolescents include: communicating about inappropriate behavior, dealing with menstrual cycles, distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate touching, maintaining physical boundaries with others, physical changes, and refraining from self-touch.
  • The hallmark of AS and HFA is “social development” issues. These adolescents have trouble interacting with others. The part of the brain that recognizes and displays human emotion has developed differently, and a smile or a frown does not hold the same emotional significance as it does for a “typical” teenager.
  • AS and HFA traits can include fixation on objects and ideas, or making repetitive motions or using repetitive speech.



Adolescents with AS and HFA need time to gradually learn and practice adult life-skills (e.g., finding a job, managing finances, doing laundry, preparing meals, driving a car, arranging medical appointments, etc.). They may not be ready for adult responsibilities at the same age as their “typical” peers. Thus, it’s very important that parents help their “special needs” teenagers learn to be comfortable with their own situation and abilities.

Below are some suggestions for how parents can guide their AS and HFA teenagers through adolescence – and prepare them for adulthood:

1. AS and HFA adolescents can learn appropriate behaviors, and many of them work hard to learn emotional interpretation and response. Also, they DO feel emotions (e.g., empathy); however, it’s learning to express these emotions in a way others understand that is difficult. The earlier the symptoms of AS and HFA are addressed, the more likely it’s that the adolescent will have better success in his or her social interactions.

2. Adolescents on the autism spectrum need to know both the mechanics and morals connected with sex. Books and classes have suggestions about how to handle the topic.

3. Assign age-appropriate chores. Your “special needs” teenager can begin with simple tasks (e.g., setting the table, taking out the garbage, etc.). Later, she can take on larger tasks (e.g., preparing a simple meal once a week for the family).

4. Base your support and expectations on your teen's abilities, level of emotional security, and history – not on her chronological age or what her peers are doing.

5. Celebrate and enjoy each milestone your teen reaches on the road to self-sufficiency. But at the same time, understand that you are going to have frustrations, and that this phase is going to bring a whole new set of stressors.

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

6. Check with your adolescent's school about any transition services the district may provide.

7. Don’t rescue your teenager by paying off her debts or by making excuses to her teacher for a failing grade. Let her feel the consequences, and the lessons will be long lasting.

8. Emphasize that your teen’s main responsibility at this stage in life is to get an education. It’s difficult to become a successful, self-supporting grown-up in contemporary society without at least a high school diploma. If marks and test results start to decline, be sure to show concern and take measures to reverse the trend as quickly and as forcefully as possible.

9. Enroll your teenager in a life-skills class, and also teach these skills at home.

10. Explain how you will help your adolescent move into adult life. AS and HFA adolescents need to know how long they can live at home and whether or not their mom and dad will help them with their first apartment rental, pay college tuition, keep them on the family health insurance, etc.


11. Explore substitutes or assistance for skills that are not manageable. As the parent, you are the best judge of when your adolescent is ready to partially or fully manage adult tasks.

12. Get your teen involved in peer-mentoring groups to learn life and job skills.

13. Group video instruction can help teens with AS and HFA learn important social skills. While the diagnosis rate for AS and HFA for 14- to 17-year-olds has more than doubled in the past five years, very few strategies have been found to help these teens develop the social skills they need to be successful. Studies have shown AS and HFA teens are more likely to pay attention when an innovative technology delivers the information. Video-based group instruction is important, given the often limited resources in schools that also face increasing numbers of students being diagnosed with AS and HFA.

14. Have your teenager meet with other AS and HFA adolescents with similar challenges. This can make her feel not so alone and ostracized.

15. Include your teenager in groups (e.g., support, therapy, social and sports groups).

16. Lead by example. Teens absorb attitudes, behaviors and habits from their parents. When they see the family wage-earners going to work daily, and both mom and dad cooperating to do cleaning, cooking and other household chores, they come to understand that everyone needs to contribute to the welfare of the family.

17. Make a list of the skills you believe your “special needs” teen will need in the outside world. Do this as you go through your day – working, shopping, paying bills, cooking and performing other normal tasks. Writing the list yourself will make you aware of behaviors that you can model and share with your adolescent. Show the list to his teachers, doctor, therapist and any other caregiver who helps him. Ask these people to review and add to the tasks, using their knowledge of your teen’s abilities and problems. Also, turn the everyday activities from your list into “teaching moments” (e.g., at the grocery store, you can ask your teen to find the least expensive canned peaches; wait at a bus stop and demonstrate how to pay the fare, find a seat and get off at the right stop; show your teen simple cooking and cleaning methods, etc.).

18. One of the greatest gifts you can give your AS or HFA adolescent is the ability to handle his emotions. Teaching him how to identify, reflect on, and deal with his feelings by the time he leaves home is one of the best ways to prepare him for adulthood. In fact, this emotional strength and ability will take your child much farther in life than intellectual ability or a specific ability (e.g., athletic or artistic ability).

19. Provide ongoing emotional and tangible support even after your young adult moves out of your home. Moms and dads who visit frequently, assist with household management, help to fill out tax forms, etc., help their adult children not feel too overwhelmed as they adjust to life away from parents.

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

20. Remember that under Federal law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), by the time a special education student reaches age 16, the school is to provide a plan that may include help obtaining further education, getting a job, or living independently. Moms and dads need to advocate for these services. Communicate respectfully, clearly, and often with your school's "transition coordinator" about your teen's transition plan.

21. See that your adolescent gets enough experience in normal social etiquette (e.g., talking to a store clerk, relating to friends at a party, asking for information, etc.).

22. Seek out social-skills classes sponsored by local schools, community centers, colleges or charitable foundations.

23. Teach and re-teach your adolescent adult life-skills (e.g., balancing a checkbook, paying off a credit card balance, cooking, laundry, car maintenance, making doctor appointments, etc.). Provide abundant opportunities for supervised practice.

24. The most important thing moms and dads can do is to “let go” of their “special needs” teen and let him experience success -- and failure -- on his own. No matter how complex the special need is, that teenager will be striving for a state of independence. He wants that, just like all teens want independence. As true as this may be, it can be challenging emotionally for moms and dads to transition from a protective, advocatory role and to permit new degrees of autonomy.

25. The next time you talk to your AS or HFA adolescent about a problem she is facing, help her to reason on how her choices reflect on her. Help her to see how her choices either enhance her reputation or tarnish it, which in turn will help or hurt her future prospects.

26. Very few young adults on the autism spectrum are ready for full "independent" living. They all need ongoing support and encouragement from parents as they learn to negotiate the adult world. “Launching” AS and HFA individuals from the “nest” brings some unique challenges. Initially, "interdependence" rather than "independence" is a more fitting goal for these young people as they begin to venture into the world.

27. When a problematic issue arises, try reversing roles. Ask your adolescent what advice she would give you if you were her child. Have her do research to come up with reasons to support – or challenge – her thinking. Discuss the matter again within a week.

28. When your adolescent shows that she is handling her social life, schoolwork, and part-time employment well, you can start to gradually loosen the apron strings and trust her with more responsibility. This may be the time to go on a short vacation and leave your adolescent home alone to look after herself and the house. Soon she'll be off to college or university (hopefully), and she needs to practice being on her own.

29. Write down one or two areas in which you could extend a little more freedom to your “special needs” teenager. Explain to her that you are extending this freedom on a trial basis. If she handles it responsibly, in time she can be granted more. If she does not do so, the freedoms she has been granted will be curtailed.

30. Your AS or HFA teen needs to be socialized. Give her plenty of opportunities to mix amicably with other people of all age groups. She should visit restaurants, movies, and malls and learn to behave appropriately in all circumstances. Grown-ups don’t live in isolation. They need to interact graciously with different types of people in a variety of milieus. As your teenager matures, she should improve her social skills so she can converse pleasantly with anyone in diverse situations.

As mentioned earlier, young people on the autism spectrum need extra time to learn and practice adult life-skills, because their “emotional age” is much younger than their “chronological age” …in other words, you may have a teenager who is 17-years-old chronologically, but emotionally more like 14-year-old. So, the earlier you begin helping out in this area – the better!

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

7.5.12

Integrating Young Adults with Asperger Syndrome with Typically Developing Peers


Integrating Young Adults with Asperger Syndrome with Typically Developing Peers: An Essential Step in the Transition to Independence

Kyle Avery, Ramapo for Children

For many young adults on the spectrum, especially those with Asperger Syndrome, comfortable interaction with typically developing peers is more a dream than a reality. Yet when they transition to college or the work force, the ability to socialize becomes a prerequisite for success. To grow their social and emotional skills, these young adults need safe opportunities to interact with typically developing peers. This is why Ramapo for Children’s Staff Assistant Experience provides an integrated, inclusive environment to help young adults with social, emotional, or learning challenges transition to independence.



Roadblocks on the Path to Independence

Regardless of challenges, all youth seek the same things: to learn, have friends, feel valued, and experience success. Once high school ends, the most common paths to those goals are college or work. But teens with autism spectrum disorders like Asperger Syndrome can experience alienation instead of achievement on these paths due to their characteristic lag in social skills. Some colleges offer programs that support young adults with special needs, but their focus is primarily academic and does little to mitigate the discomfort that those with social and emotional challenges face in the less structured campus environment. Offices and work environments are even less forgiving, and poor social skills are often cited as a primary source of difficulties when young adults with special needs enter the workplace.

The greatest obstacle between the young adults who experience these setbacks and their ability to align their behaviors with their aspirations is the opportunity to practice social situations. In an unstructured environment, entering conversations can be a terrifying and confidence-destroying prospect, and real-time debriefing either is not an option or comes in the form of admonishment instead of support. The only way to improve social skills is to repeatedly take part in interactions until they become part of daily routine. Additionally, receiving constructive feedback based on those interactions is a great, underutilized tool to supportively help young adults improve their communication skills, recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and work to address them. Ramapo for Children takes the trepidation out of social interaction by fully immersing young adults with their typically developing peers and providing a safe space where mistakes and missteps become opportunities for improvement.

The Staff Assistant Experience: Supporting Young Adults in Transition

The Staff Assistant Experience is a residential transition-to-independence program for young adults with social, emotional, or learning challenges. The program offers participants an opportunity to improve and reinforce interpersonal, independent living, and job skills, build resilience and determination, and establish a future orientation. The program, based at Ramapo for Children’s Rhinebeck campus, is designed for young adults ages 18 to 25 who seek self-sufficiency and independence, but who have struggled in other, less supportive environments.

            The Staff Assistant Experience Helps Participants Develop:

·         Independent Living Skills—Ramapo provides coaching and instruction on such tasks as meal planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and household budgeting.
·         Social Skills—Ramapo provides a variety of social opportunities and special community events that foster positive interactions and encourage friendships.
·         Job Skills—Ramapo provides meaningful work opportunities to teach universally applicable vocational skills and help Staff Assistants manage relationships in the workplace.

Roommates, Job Coaches, Mentors: Immersion with Typically Developing Peers

The unique blending of social, work, and home life with typically developing peers is a hallmark of SAE. Participants live and work alongside these peers, who are their coworkers, colleagues, mentors, roommates, and friends. Being fully immersed with understanding and supportive peers who have greater social and emotional aptitude enables participants to gain comfort in social situations and provides ample opportunity to practice skill building. Participants receive immediate constructive feedback on social and professional development that recognizes their strengths and helps them improve their weaknesses. As one Staff Assistant noted about his experience on campus, “No one judges me, because everyone, kids and staff alike, are here to improve their skills and learn new things.” With everyone on the way to new achievements, missteps are taken in stride.

Building Social and Emotional Confidence One Day at a Time

These one-on-one interactions and skill support, along with the structured and inclusive environment, have helped Staff Assistants gain skills in everything from becoming more open-minded and starting conversations with peers, to slowing down and enunciating speech to facilitate conversations. With social and emotional skills broken down into achievable tasks, then modeled and reinforced by peers, everyday interactions that were once terrifying become manageable for Staff Assistants. The ease they gain on campus is directly applicable to future experiences in the workforce, higher education, or simply the everyday opportunities that enrich a young adult’s life.

Just as importantly, the Staff Assistant Experience helps participants feel like a part of a team in a way they never have before. With their colleagues and roommates, they’re “just one of the guys,” a member of the Ramapo family who can joke around with colleagues and have meaningful conversations with roommates without fear of rejection. The opportunity to be seen not as a diagnosis but as a friend and peer is what makes the Staff Assistant Experience work, and it’s what guides the Staff Assistants to new heights of independence and aptitude.

In addition to the Staff Assistant Experience, Ramapo for Children provides a residential summer camp for children ages 6 to 16 who are affected by social, emotional, or learning challenges; year-round retreats for young people, educators, and other community-based organizations; and adult training programs. For more information about Ramapo for Children or the Staff Assistant Experience, please visit www.ramapoforchildren.org or contact Kyle Avery at (646) 588-2308 or kavery@ramapoforchildren.org.

11.4.16

College Depression in Older Teens and Young Adults with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism

"The emotional transition to college has really been a challenge for our young adult child with HFA. He has struggled with depression even more than in the past during high school. He is having a lot of trouble dealing with this new stage of life — how you we help?!"

College depression is a common problem among older teens and young adults with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). In this post, we will look at why the transition to college makes these “special needs” individuals vulnerable to depression — and what moms and dads can do about it.

College depression isn't a clinical diagnosis, rather it is depression that begins during college. AS and HFA students face many challenges, pressures and anxieties that can cause them to feel overwhelmed. For example:
  • Due to their “quirky” or odd behavior, they may experience ostracism from the peer group, teasing, or bullying.
  • Money and intimate relationships may serve as major sources of stress.
  • They are adapting to a new schedule and workload.
  • They are adjusting to life with roommates.
  • They may be living on their own for the first time and feeling homesick.
  • They are trying to figure out how to “fit-in.”

Dealing with these changes during the transition from the teenage years to adulthood can trigger depression during college in these individuals. College depression has been linked to:
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Risky behaviors related to drug and alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • Impaired academic performance
  • Preferring to isolate rather than socialize
  • Returning home after a failed attempt to adjust to college life

Many “typical” college students occasionally feel sad or anxious, but these emotions usually pass within a few days or weeks. However, with students on the autism spectrum, feelings of sadness or anxiety may persist and interfere with normal activities. This is often due to the fact that their emotional age is much younger than their chronological age. Thus, they are emotionally and socially unprepared to “mix” with peers who are developmentally advanced by comparison.



Signs that an AS or HFA student may be experiencing depression during college include:
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Distractibility and decreased concentration
  • Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy
  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Fixation on past failures
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
  • Indecisiveness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Self-blame when things aren't going right
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Unexplained physical problems (e.g., back pain, headaches, stomachaches, etc.)

Symptoms of depression can be difficult to notice if your teenager is no longer living at home. Also, AS and HFA students may have difficulty seeking help for depression out of embarrassment or fear of not “fitting-in.”

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

What should parents do if they suspect that their older teen or young adult is experiencing college depression?

1. Helping your AS or HFA teenager become accustomed to the college campus before the start of the school year may prevent him from feeling overwhelmed later in the semester. Encourage him to visit the campus and talk to other classmates, peer counselors, and faculty about what to expect and where to turn for support.

2. Encourage your teenager to avoid making major decisions (e.g., changing majors, doing too many things at once, etc.). Instead, help her to break up large tasks into small ones.

3. Encourage your teenager to get to know people in her dorm and classes. Caring classmates can help her to feel more comfortable in a new environment.

4. If you suspect that your teenager is struggling with depression, talk to him about what's going on – and listen. Encourage him to talk about his feelings. Also, ask him to make an appointment with a therapist as soon as possible. Most colleges offer mental health services.

5. If your teenager has risk factors for - or a history of - depression, talk to her doctor about what kind of counseling options might best help her with the transition to college. Also, help her become familiar with campus counseling resources.




6. Remember, depression may not get better on its own. In fact, it often gets worse if it isn't treated. Feelings of depression can also increase the likelihood of substance abuse and the risk of suicide. So, parents must intervene! Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health issues in other areas of life.

7. Urge your teenager to get involved in activities that he enjoys, which can help to shift the focus away from his negative feelings. Physical activity can be particularly helpful as well.

Helping your AS or HFA teenager make the emotional transition to college can be a major undertaking. Know how to identify whether he or she is having trouble dealing with this new stage of life — and what you can do to help. Remember, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a problem can relieve symptoms, prevent depression from returning, and help “special needs” students succeed in college.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

7.11.18

Parenting Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum

"My 20 year old high functioning autistic son (unemployed and not attending college) is staying out all night and not telling us where he has been. I am worried as he is not really ‘street wise’ and probably at big risk. He has been involved in a few of these so-called 'peaceful protests' here lately, which scares us since some of these young people end up either dead or in jail."

You have good cause to be concerned about this. Young people with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's have a lot of difficulty recognizing when someone is lying to them, using them for their own purposes, or befriending them in order to get them involved in inappropriate activities.

Many of these "special needs" teenagers are surprised that someone would even try to take advantage of them. While they understand if something is true or false, they can’t understand why someone would use the truth to create lies, say one thing but mean something else, or believe something that is not true.

The slow or confused processing of emotions many teens on the autism spectrum experience can impede awareness of dangerous situations and stop rational thought. The emotional warning signs that are meant to protect them from difficult or harmful situations may malfunction, or work so slowly that they lose effectiveness. This means that these individuals are less prepared to defend themselves verbally or physically in an argument or conflict or say “no” to inappropriate activities. Consequently, your adult child may fall victim to exploitation or worse through no fault of his own.

Even though he is a grown-up, you must still try to protect your (socially naïve) child as he is not ready for the same amount of freedom as other grown-ups. Does he have a trustworthy friend or relative who could be a mentor and help him by going out with him and keeping him out of trouble? This mentor can try to help your son understand that many people act friendly, but may want to get him involved in foolish or dangerous activities. Also, the mentor could help him get involved in clubs or groups in which he will meet responsible friends.
 
==> Launching Adult Children: How To Promote Self-Reliance

Therapy is definitely called for in this situation. You and a therapist may be able to convince your adult child to tell you what is going on when he is outside the home. Also, he needs to tell you when “friends” want him to do something wrong or dangerous. Convince him that by doing so, he is doing the right thing, obeying the law, and keeping himself and others safe.

Sit down with your son and have a long talk about what he shouldn’t do when he is with friends, including inappropriate sexual activity, criminal activity, take drugs, drinking, driving after drinking, and so on. Make it very clear to him the negative consequences of doing each of these things in very specific terms. Make it clear that he must not engage in these activities – even to gain the friendship of others.

One of the good things about young adults on the spectrum in this situation is that they can be very “black and white” in sticking to rules. So, if you can emphasize some of the laws around certain behaviors (e.g., petty crime, certain sexual behaviors, use of alcohol/drugs, etc.), you have a much better chance of compliance. In such situations, quite rigid thinking can be a good thing if it helps to keep your adult child on the “straight and narrow.”

Also, consider the possibility of a temporary group home or an assisted living situation for your son to help him learn to become independent and act responsibly, thus preparing him for living on his own some day. In addition, it's probably a good idea to put your name on all his bank accounts so that both of you must agree before he can access his money.


Here's additional information on this issue:

==> Adult Children Still Living With Mom & Dad  

==> Launching Adult Children: How To Promote Self-Reliance
 
 
More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD
 
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