Question: What living arrangements are realistic options for adults with autism spectrum disorders?
Answer: All options should really be open. I think really the types of options that you're going to look at are dependent upon the individuals, how able that individual is in terms of managing everyday life at home. Are they able to look at, manage their bills? Are they able to perform everyday tasks at home? Cleaning routines? Other home management skills, those kind of things are important. You need to also look at the safety issues. Do they understand what to do incase of a safety challenge that may come up in the home?
Options vary also. Families are looking at a variety of supports when it comes to independent living or the need to have somebody help at a home. So, options may include whether the individual stays with the family at home and the family continues to support that individual. It may be a case where somebody comes in -- we call it 'in home supports -- a provider comes in to support that individual so they can maintain and stay within the family's home.
Some families are being creative and what they're doing is creating apartments within the home so the person is close by, can be looked in on, but they still feel comfortable because they reside in the same place that they've lived for a number of years.
Then we look at places where individuals may choose to step outside the home and they may live in what's called 'residential placements' where there may be several other individuals who in live in apartments or may be living in a home and they share the responsibilities in that home. You have providers that step in whether they live there full-time, 24 hours, around the clock, or they may check in every so often. But that's another option.
There's also options where individuals are living out in the community on their own, but they have a provider that checks in on a weekly basis or just on a daily basis. There are many different options.
A new option that a lot of parents are doing is they're getting together with other families and buying a place for their child -- their adult child -- and what they're doing is hiring a peer to stay in that home, to share the residence with them and that person lives there for free, but they're available to help with whatever needs that person may have. Usually it's minimal needs.
And then the person that lives independently, totally on their own, may just need somebody to be able to call up to help manage finances or to check in on how I balance my life. So those are different options that families may use, but I think all should be really explored and it goes back to how independent is that person in managing their everyday tasks and wherever they need support, then provide that support so they can be a part of the community as much as possible.