Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…
Asperger’s Syndrome in Adults-
3 Tips for Life Success
In newsletter 90, Asperger’s Syndrome in Adults – Living with Your Adult Child, we covered what is perhaps the most important rule of living with your adult with Asperger’s Syndrome – having good communication. More specifically, having clear and specific communication at a time when family members are relaxed enough to be able to hear what is being said. But there are other things that one needs to know in order to have a successful living situation with an adult who has Asperger’s syndrome. Here are a few tips.
1. Help them sign up for whatever social programs are available
Vocational Rehab can help an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome get a job, and sometimes even transportation to that job. A counselor can help them work through their feelings about being at home, and help them build new strategies for the future. Social Security can provide them money to live on, and Medicaid or Medicare can help with health insurance.
None of these programs are easy to sign up for, though. They can baffle any typical adult- especially an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome! So be sure to take an active role in helping them seek out and sign up for these programs. Follow up to see what their progress is, or better yet, do it with them.
2. Encourage them to make connections socially
Often times you will see adults with Asperger’s Syndrome living in the basement and playing video games all day. Video games can be a nice tool for relaxation, but there is more to life than that. Perhaps they watch a lot of TV, or just hang around you or whatever adult is at home. If at all possible, encourage them to try to make connections outside the home.
Some disability organizations offer day programs or outings. Your adult with Asperger’s Syndrome may be able to find potential friends at clubs organized around special interests. Perhaps go to community meetings or Meetup.com groups to try to have a feeling of being more involved in the community. Volunteer work is another avenue to consider. Anything to help them feel they are part of the community and have something to offer. Again, you may have to facilitate some of these activities happening, at least in the beginning.
3. Teaching Life Skills
While your adult with Asperger’s Syndrome is living at home with you, this may be a good opportunity to teach them some basic life skills. How to properly clean a house, cooking skills, goal setting, money management, that kind of thing.
But in some areas you will have to take into account their comfort zone if you really want things to sink in. Say for example you usually have dinner really late in the evening or night, and everyone is tired and hungry by then. That might not be the best time to teach cooking skills, even if it is the most convenient time for you, because chances are your adult with Asperger’s Syndrome will be too hungry and/or tired to take anything in.
When working with adults with Asperger’s Syndrome you may think they should be able to deal with the same amount of stress and chaos as the rest of us, but in truth it’s just not going to happen. They become overwhelmed easily and just shut down, and it creates a tense situation between everyone.
Instead, choose a time that is mutually agreeable between everyone, even if takes a little work to arrive at such a time. One hour of well rested instruction with a clear mind is better than 10 hours of instruction in a frenzied environment.
Money Managing Tip
Many parents think it is very important to teach their kids about building up good credit and starting out early on this so they will have built up credit for bigger purchases down the road. This is certainly a smart idea for many people, and it is good foresight, but is it really right for your adult with Asperger’s Syndrome?
Can your adult child handle the responsibility of paying the credit card bill every month? Do they understand that the card is not carte blanche to buy whatever they want? Even if they do, will they be able to resist the temptation, especially if they’re just starting out, to buy a little extra than they normally would, which becomes a lot extra, just because they can? A few mistakes now can result in a LOT of credit card debt later. If this is common with typical young adults, it is an awful lot more common with regard to an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome.
If your adult child says they do not want or feel ready for a credit card, do not push it. It is a lot easier to look at concrete numbers on a checking account, use a debit card, and see the numbers go down instead of up. For concrete, literal thinkers, the concept of using a credit card and the process of paying it off can just be too abstract for them.
Start with a debit card, and teach your adult with Asperger’s Syndrome to manage money based on a fixed amount of money they have every month. If they do well with that, then you can try the credit card.
Hopefully, some of these tips will make day-to-day life easier for your adult with Asperger’s Syndrome as well as for you too. Click here for Part 3.
Also check out Craig Kendall’s latest book, New Hope for Autism