All Articles Autism Independent Living Parents of young adults with autism often wonder what will happen to their children after school. Will they move out on their own? Will they attend college and start a career? What will happen to my child when I am no longer around? These are all common questions, and the answers are not always black and white, Autism is variable. This means that each individual will display different symptoms and face their own challenges. They will also showcase unique interests, skills, and capabilities. That is why it’s important to work one-on-one with your child, helping them pave their personal path to independence. Can a Person with Autism Spectrum Disorder Live an Independent Adult Life? Yes! A person with autism can live independently as an adult. However, each individual’s level of independence will differ. “Independence” will not look the same for everyone with autism. When seeking supportive interventions, the goal is to help each individual achieve the highest possible level of independence, which differs from one person to the next. An autism diagnosis does not mean that your child will never attend college, make friends, get married, or have a fulfilling career. However, living with autism means that this process will differ from people without autism — and that’s okay! Today, there are a variety of wonderful programs that help each individual with autism reach their full potential. Working towards different stages of independence over time, allows individuals with autism to develop the skills they need to thrive. Independent Living Skills for Adults with Autism Since each individual is unique in terms of their abilities, struggles, and goals, it’s important to seek a personalized program that tends to your needs or your loved one’s needs. For example, if you want to work towards finding a job, you will need to develop a wide range of skills, focusing on both your strengths and weaknesses. Since working provides the first step towards greater financial independence, this is an excellent starting point. Whether you wish to build communication skills or want to develop more job-specific skills, the vocational training program at the Adult Autism Center changes lives. Another common goal among adults with autism is to move into their own place. However, there are many considerations before you or your loved one moves away from home. From self-care to home living skills, money management to cooking and nutrition, this can be a complex step. These are important skills that all adults need to learn — not just those with autism. However, when living with autism, certain aspects of this learning process can be more challenging than others. Just some of the core skills you may focus on include: Self-help and self-awareness skills Communication skills Problem-solving skills Domestic and personal care skills Money management and budgeting Employment skills What Does Independent Living Look Like for Adults with Autism? Independent living looks different for each adult with autism. Depending on the severity of one’s symptoms, there are various “independent living” options, including independent living, supported living, and supervised group living. In some cases, this path is not linear. If your loved one has moved out but is not quite ready to live a fully independent life, they may benefit from supported living. This will allow them to receive the tools and therapy they need during this period, so they can reach key milestones. The Adult Autism Center offers programs that encourage greater independence and personal growth. During our decades of experience within the autism community, we realized that there was a gap in the services and resources offered to adults with autism. We are here for you and your family! Heather Davis, Ph.D, BCBA, LBA, Adult Autism Center Clinical DirectorHeather Davis graduated from Texas A&M University with her Ph.D. in Special Education and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Heather has spent 18 years of her professional career working with children diagnosed with autism and their families. In her previous role as the Clinical Director of the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning, her focus was to provide on-going staff training to ensure the delivery of high-quality, evidence-based services to meet the individualized needs of each child diagnosed with autism. She is inspired to continue to work in this field by the progress clients demonstrate which helps to improve their quality of life. Hearing individuals speak their first words, gain independent living skills, and demonstrate skills families never thought possible are what drive her to become a better clinician and continue to work with these important members of our community. In her free time, Heather enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her twin girls and husband exploring all the wonderful landscapes of Utah.