• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Practical Help for Adults with Asperger’s

practical helpUnfortunately there are very little resources available for adults living with autism spectrum disorders. Adults effected by autism or Asperger’s Syndrome tend to go undiagnosed because they have learned to “blend in” with the world around them. Blending, however, does not negate the fact that these adults experience severe and many times debilitating disabilities relating to their condition. Accommodations, resources, and services that were available to them as children (if they were properly diagnosed) vanish when they reach adulthood.

What Areas Do Adults with Asperger’s Need Assistance In?

Adults on the high-functioning side of the autism spectrum, or with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to struggle with everyday living issues despite their higher than average I.Q.’s and often “normal” appearances. Even those who manage to hold down a full-time job, and/or work in specialized fields tend to need assistance with the mundane everyday activities of life. Assistance may be needed with budgeting, managing finances, and paying bills on time, household chores, cooking, and childcare due to executive functioning issues, one of the core deficits of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Help Finding a Job

Job assistance including training, interviewing strategies, and search methods can be a very useful services to an autistic adult. In particular, knowing where to look for jobs, and counseling on what jobs would be a good “fit” for them would allow the adult to narrow their searches to those types of jobs that will allow for the most likelihood for success. Practicing interviewing skills through mock exercises, practicing looking the potential employer in the eyes, and proper greetings and departures will be helpful. As is common with those who have autism spectrum disorders, it is extremely important to know and understand what to expect. These practice exercises will help the individual to “script” their answers, knowing what they are going to say in advance, to a wide variety of possible interview questions making them feel more comfortable and better prepared.

Help Managing Finances

Even for those who understand finances, can make a viable budget, or even rattle off interest rates and amortization tables without a calculator can often have difficulty with handing the day-to-day side of a household’s finances. Setting a budget, a one-time event, may be handled with ease. However, due to the sequencing, planning, and persistence needed to implement that budget on a consistent month after month basis, the same person may be unable to “stick” to the budget. Furthermore, the act of actually getting all the bills paid in a timely manner consistently may require more executive functioning than the individual possesses. Using a service to handle the finances, to actually collect and pay the bills each month, can alleviate some financial burdens, as well, as worry from the autistic adult.

Help with Household Chores

Sequencing, planning, and prioritizing—all executive functions, when lacking are also to blame for difficulties completing or maintaining household/domestic chores. In a world where everything is competing for your attention, without the ability to prioritize and sequence properly simply keeping a house clean, grocery shopping, and cooking for oneself can become an obstacle. In these situations, family members or friends may be able to swap services, or simply help out with domestic chores. When finances allow, hiring someone to come and help around the house, even if it just one or two times per month can make a huge difference.

With the lack of services that are available, autistic adults tend to be left to fend for themselves. While many adults with Asperger’s Syndrome are able to live on their own, and hold down a job and/or perform domestic duties, additional practical help in areas of everyday living can increase the quality and productivity of the individual’s life. Moving the obstacles out of one’s way allows for growth in other areas.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.