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Preparing an autistic person for independence is a concept that needs lots of ‘breaking down’. Through our own experiences of preparing for independence, we know that there is much to consider.
Where to begin…
Ask yourself some questions;
- What does independence look like?
- How might independence be for my child?
- What does my child want to achieve?
What does independent mean?
We suggest that you ask the questions above because it gets you thinking about what independence might really mean – and it’s different for everyone! Sometimes we might think that being independent means that you do everything for yourself, but it’s important to remember that independent can mean living with support as well. We live in communities for a reason, and part of this is that we all rely on other people for one thing or another. Building independence shouldn’t mean that we avoid seeking help or putting support in place – being independent is not the same as being alone.
Once you have identified where you’re heading with the concept of independence, you can start to put together a plan.
Breaking things down
The skills that we use to do things such as; prepare and cook meals, wash and fold clothes, travel by bus or train, or even manage a budget to live out of home all involve lots of little steps and parts.
It’s helpful to map out the different stages of skill building so that you can see what you’re aiming towards. Using a ‘map’ or written plan also helps to ensure you don’t skip over vital steps along the way.
Work at a pace that feels right
We all build skills at our own pace, and it’s no different when building skills around independence. Choose one area of skills to introduce at a time, and allow plenty of time for learning these skills.
It can also be helpful to enlist the help of others – if your child is learning something new at home, let other support people know so that when skills have become established they can provide the same opportunity for learning in other places as well.
Independence is different for everyone
Remember, becoming independent will look different for everyone (as we explained above), so as you begin preparing to support your child towards more independence, take the time to work out how it looks for them!
Written by Elissa Plumridge