CA works with numerous families to support adolescents and adults in reaching their desired living situation. In this process CA has learned consistent themes of concern and uncertainty from families and young adults as they face adulthood and independence. Sarah Sheppard, Manager of CA Adult Programs, shares common concerns and frequently asked questions or FAQ: preparing for independence for adults with autism.
Answer from CA Adult Programs: There are many life skills you will need to learn in order to live independently. But, don’t let that overwhelm you! You don’t need to master all living skills prior to leaving your family home to live safely on your own. There is opportunity learn these skills throughout the transition process and even once you are on your own. Keep in mind independence doesn’t look the same for everyone. We all have different circumstances regarding medical needs, financial security, mental health, etc. Prior to leaving your family home, we recommend that you are proficient in the following skill areas:
- Hygiene: good personal care and grooming.
- Household cleanliness: understands general principles of sanitation, keeps bedroom and common areas clean and odor free, understands how to do laundry.
- Medication management: knows the names of medications, is compliant with medication adherence, can contact pharmacy to refill prescription.
- Cooking: can follow a simple recipe or reheat a prepared meal while adhering to kitchen safety standards.
- Money management: demonstrates the ability to follow a budget and can manage monthly spending money properly, can make most purchases, can use a debit or credit card and account balances.
- Transportation: has license and drives own car or can arrange for transportation or has the ability to navigate public transportation.
- Community safety and emergency skills: demonstrates appropriate home safety skills (i.e locking doors), can do simple first aid or medical care on self, ability to identify unsafe situations and emergencies.
- Employment: secure part time to full time employment.
A great resource is PEATC Life Skills Checklist, linked here!
Answer from CA Adult Programs: It’s never too early to start teaching your young adult life skills in preparation for independent living. The first step is to allow your adult child more autonomy in their day-to-day responsibilities while encouraging them to take ownership of their independence. Give your young adult the opportunity to take on responsibilities for themselves and your household. Try to give them the space to do for themselves rather than doing for them. Here are some suggestions:
- Create a meal schedule and have your young adult cook dinner one day per week. This can start with providing your adult with a recipe and supporting them in completing that recipe. Gradually fade your hands on support in the kitchen. This skill can eventually build up to your adult selecting their recipe, ensuring that it is nutritious, and completing preparation steps such as grocery shopping for ingredients.
- Teach your young adult the names and doses of their medications. Support them in filling a weekly pill box and gradually fade supports to having your adult self-monitor their medication adherence.
- Assign your adult child a rotating chore that involves deep cleaning tasks. Examples are vacuuming, mopping, bathroom cleaning or dusting. These are household habits we consistently observe our adult clients struggle to consistently keep up with due to lack of experience.
- Have your young adult contribute financially to “rent” or other household expenses. This could be as a little as $40 per month for room and board or having them buy groceries for the household once a month. Young adults often struggle to understand budgeting and the means to support themselves as they have no frame of reference for financial responsibility.
Answer from CA Adult Programs: Everyone is different and has their own individualized strengths and lagging skills, so transition will look different for your adult in comparison to other adults. It is important to remember that the road to independence isn’t a linear process for neurodiverse adults. Allow your adult to experience natural consequences and setbacks, while providing them with encouragement and a safety net of support. Don’t hesitate to seek professional supports to step in as life coaches and allow yourself to step back from your role as nurturer and caretaker. CA Adult Programs has coaching services to support your adult on their journey to independence, from skill building in your family home to maintaining skills once they have moved out.