I am an independent Aspie. I live on my own, renting a 2 bedroom apartment outside of town.
I’m a single mom and I do not receive child support, disability, food stamps, or other typical forms of assistance. I work full-time and I help out at church and work on my many projects.
My daughter lives with me, and I look after her and our many pets. It’s a busy, challenging life, but I’m happy.
I have been living away from home for over 15 years.
Has it been easy? No.
Has it been worth it? Yes!
During those 15 years, I learned a lot. Had I known what I know now, I could have saved myself a great deal of trouble and stress. While I can’t go back in time to warn myself, I can at least tell you and anyone else who may be wanting to live on their own.
So… Let me tell you a bit about my story…
In 2003, back when I was 18 years old, my mother was pushing me to get a job. She wanted to live her life and I felt the pressure to get out and live on my own.
I was young and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was not aware that I had Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder, nor did my family suspect anything of the sort. On the surface, I appeared normal, so it was assumed that I was.
I was treated like a neurotypical person all my life. I was expected to talk and behave like everyone else, and was expected to do what typical people do.
No one suspected there was anything “wrong” with me. My family assumed I was just shy and I would grow out of it, so that is what I was led to believe.
Once I turned 18, I began seriously thinking about moving out on my own. I generally felt rather restricted at home, like I couldn’t be myself. Anytime I would try to do something outside of my typical behavior patterns, I felt humiliated and embarrassed.
It drove me crazy! I felt like I couldn’t do anything without drawing unwanted attention to myself. I just wanted to be able to live and do what I wanted without the criticism, judgement, or attention. I just wanted to be like everyone else.
I thought if I could just get out in the world and be around people, I could learn how to be “normal” and experience the world as they do.
Without any awareness or understanding of my neurological and psychological issues, such a goal seemed attainable.
Holding onto my hopes of becoming “normal”, I pushed past my fears, anxiety, and comfort to move out.
When I moved, I didn’t move into an apartment in the same town. I moved to downtown Seattle – a large city that was very different from what I was used to.
I didn’t have a car or know how to drive. Whenever I needed to go somewhere, I walked and rode on the bus, or I got a ride with my sister.
After I got a job, I rented a small furnished room on the fourth floor of an old apartment building.
As I began living on my own, I quickly learned that I didn’t know how to do much of anything.
Because of my lack of knowledge, I was overly dependent on others, needing them to tell me what to do and how to live. It led me to be naive and overly trusting, to make foolish and careless decisions, and to miss opportunities and to do things the hard way.
When you live on your own, you need to understand the basics of how to live on your own. Unfortunately, that’s not something they teach very well in schools, and it is something most parents don’t teach their children.
While it’s totally possible to successfully and happily live on your own, you need to think things through and plan it out carefully.
- What transportation will you have? Will you drive, take a bus, walk?
- How and where will you do your laundry? How will you transport it to/from the laundry facilities? If you are going to use a laundromat, do you know how much it will cost to wash your clothes? Do you know how to do your own laundry properly?
- What will you do about food? Do you have basic cooking skills? What will you cook on? Where will you buy groceries? How will you get your groceries home?
- Where will you work? How will you get to and from work? What about when the weather is bad?
- What will you do if there’s an emergency? Do you have someone near by that can help you?
- Can you afford the rent, utilities, groceries, and other costs? Do you have money for utility deposits?
- Can you afford medical insurance coverage? What about dental and vision?
- Will you be able to put any money into savings in case of an emergency?
- Are you wanting or willing to have roommates to lower your living costs?
- Do you have pets you need to consider? Most places you can rent will not allow pets. Those that do, usually require a pet deposit.
There is a lot to consider when you decide to move out. You need a good, solid plan.
But even with a plan, things can go wrong.. horribly wrong. If you aren’t prepared, it can be a complete disaster.
In the posts to come, I will go over the actual step-by-step process you should go through to move out and start living on your own. I will also point out potential problems that can come up and what you can do about them.
So what do you think? Do you live on your own? If not, have you considered it? Share your answers in the comments below.
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Hi! I’m Lisa Anthony, the founder and editor of Life with Asperger’s.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 29.
If you need help with anything, I’m here!