Balancing Act

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Parenting a young adult autistic child requires a delicate balance between allowing room for independence and staying close enough to provide help, if needed.  While this is very similar to the course all parents travel as kids transition to adulthood, there are unique differences involved.  Autism makes the journey both nerve wracking and fulfilling as each individual on the spectrum has a unique experience towards adulthood.  First, it is crucial that parents have an intimate understanding of their child’s abilities, temperament, and tolerances.  Just as no two people with autism are alike, the same can be said of the transition from adolescence to becoming an adult.  For some, going solo is the only option as their skills and interpretation of the world allows them to successfully navigate new challenges and environments.  They process information differently, as a result of autism, but functionality is not a barrier to pursuing life’s goals.  Others need a more supportive environment in order to thrive, or perform basic tasks, in some cases.  Approaches to developing a strategy for adulthood may vary greatly from one sibling to the other, taking into account individual abilities and interests.

Achieving independence in adulthood for autistic adults may not entail moving out of the family home.  There are many instances of adults on the spectrum living very gratifying lifestyles independent of parental influence, but remain in the family home because of the structure it provides, along with other benefits.  The most successful arrangements involve clearly defined expectations for both parents and the adult child.  Regardless of level of functioning, parents only want what’s in their autistic adult children’s best interests.  Helping them accomplish their goals means knowing when to take a step back when necessary, while remaining vigilant to situations requiring more direct attention.

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