Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A: Volume 3. Over the course of the next few months, I’m going to be using questions submitted by my website visitors, readers, autism advocates, parents and others to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.
Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.
This week, I received a question about struggles with school and an issue with discipline.
My son is 47 years old and he has not been tested for autism, but he is the textbook case of Asperger’s. He is working & living independently but needs support with living skills; housekeeping, laundry, money matters & bills, and he has a relatively recent lack of personal hygiene. He agreed to find a diagnosis while looking into getting disability for his anxiety, which he takes medicine for, but since that was declined he is reticent about testing. What are your thoughts?
I’m strongly in favor of seeking disability in general. The possible foundation of reliable income and potential medical insurance can reduce the general anxiety someone struggling with mental health may feel, and that can help improve their ability to operate daily and alleviate some of the “worry” they may constantly feel.
It’s important to remember that the process of applying for disability is intentionally harsh – it has many checks to ensure it doesn’t go to people who don’t need it, and so it’s actually likely you’ll be rejected once or many times. It’s expected, and you’re expected to persist if you actually need it, which unfortunately can be very difficult for those of us on the spectrum. We often take “no” at face value, and assume that systems like these are impartial rather than oppositional.
Seeking the diagnosis is, to me, very important. It gave me tools to better understand my challenges as well as a secure point from which to ask for accommodations. Much of the world is willing to say “yes” when you say something like, “I’m autistic and would like to be part of the early boarding group for this flight so that I’m not too close to so many other people for my sensory issues,” and similar. It may also help with the application for disability.
It may also be worth looking for experts in the application in your area. The process has grown complex, and there are often agencies and individuals who specialize in helping you with it and understanding the challenges it poses.
I am absolutely in favor of seeking whatever help you can get, in whatever form. There’s a world of difference between treading water and having a life preserver. While neither puts you on shore, you’re much more likely to keep your head above water and have the energy to work on improving your situation if you have that life preserver.
Thanks for reading. Check back next week for another Q&A.