‘Our son can’t live on his own, he doesn’t have government money for supports’ Our daughter doesn’t get enough in Social Security to be independent’ ‘They’ve cut funding for disabilities’ again, we are on the waiting list, our son is still living at home’ Funding. Funding. Funding.
The autism blogs and parent listservs are filled with information about transition and adulthood and the financial burdens that will come along with the desire to live an independent life. In this economic climate, government funding is not prepared to support the overwhelming numbers of autistic young people coming of age. The unemployment of people with autism is higher than any other disability. So how will all of these young adults, these ‘inbetweeners’ who could learn to live independently with some supports….ever be able to afford to live on their own, out of their parent’s house?
It is a legitimate concern of course, and money will be tight. But given a certain set of circumstances, it is not impossible to make ends meet. Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is almost $700/month and many people with autism will qualify for it. Sharing your home with someone will help to lower your rent. You qualify for SNAP, or food stamps…. around $200 a month if most of your income is from your SSI. Sometimes your county will step up and award some limited dollars to pay for supports to come in and help a few hours a week. There are jobs out there… maybe not very many that will entirely support an independent life, but jobs that pay enough for some spending money after most of your SSI goes towards bills.
I really don’t think that money and funding are the main impediments to independent housing. They’re just the first consideration……. and just the tip of the iceberg.
What I really wanted to talk about here are all those other things…..
Here is my own personal ‘Top Ten (plus nine)’ list of impediments, after 14 years of helping people with disabilities live on their own.
Support People who don’t show up
Support People who watch TV, text and read their email and are basically glorified babysitters
Not knowing what to do with leisure time
Too Much Food
Support people who take you to the mall but don’t notice that there is no food in the house, a week’s worth of dirty dishes in the sink, and a negative balance in your checking account.
Landlords who don’t fix things
Your relationship with your housemate
Your Parent’s relationship with your Housemate’s parents
Medication..remembering to take them… refusing to take them… or improperly prescribed.
Broken Toilets, Clogged Drains, Lost Keys, Broken Dishwashers, Broken Washing Machines and Dryers
Porn. and mystery charges on the Comcast bill. Hundreds of dollars worth before you thought to put a PIN number in.
Self Control.. (with food and video games and porn)
Take thunderstorms. Alone in a house, your house. Lightening and thunder happening seconds apart.. that means it’s close. The power is out and you don’t know when it will come back on. What if it NEVER comes back on?
Or unopened mail. or confusing mail. or misplaced mail. When you are living with supports such as SSI or food stamps, or prescriptions, or an ISP… you get lots of mail and it requires lots of RESPONSES in a timely manner or you will lose those benefits.
Food. Eating too much of it. Eating junk food… only. It’s all just right there in front of you in the grocery store… and you have $100 in food stamps on your card.
Support People. Relationships. Medication. and Porn. These all deserve their very own blog post…. Better save these for next time.
and with all of these things to worry about, do I really believe this can be done?