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ASD teens and independence - How possible is it?

(13 Posts)
TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 18-Jul-11 12:10:14

My DS is approaching his teen years and already beginning to fight for some more independence such as asking to be allowed to walk to the local shop alone or actually "play out" later or make lunch.

We have never actually seen him attempt any of this in the past but really have aspirations for his future and would love to help him achieve as near independent life as possible.

So the question is really for those of you with experience of older ASD teens / young adults - How much independence do they have and how did they get to it?

amberlight Mon 18-Jul-11 12:46:24

So much depends on the set of skills and abilities of each individual. It also depends how we define 'independent'. Every person in the UK is dependent on others for a heck of a lot - whether it's the bus driver, the post office worker, the shelf-stacker, the refuse-collectors, or the thousands of others who make our lives possible. We have a different set of needs and so might need a different set of people to make our lives possible, but in a real sense we can often be as independent as anyone else. But we need to have those trustable people around us to act as a second set of eyes and ears, looking for dangers we might not see straight away. And we might take longer to learn enough rules for how to cope in particular situations.
Some of us can't be that independent - I can't live alone, for example, as I don't have the skills for that. But I've found enough lovely people to make it possible to marry, have a son, have a job I love, etc.

With our own son, despite a range of disabilities he's just gone round Europe with six of his 6th form friends. Was I worried as hell about it? Yup. Has he coped admirably? Yup.

Not sure that answers the question, but it's a bit of background anyway...

TessOfTheDinnerbells Mon 18-Jul-11 14:40:51

Amber: Have pm'd you! Not enough space on this thread to say how much you helped us in the passed.

He is actually relatively high functioning & successfully integrated into a mainstream school. He has friendships, a supported social life and is becoming a master of the art of negotiation and standing up for his "rights". Never saw that coming! :-)

uninspired Mon 18-Jul-11 22:54:51

We're faced with this issue ATM too.

DS is pushing for independence but he can't really be left unsupervised for fear of whatever danger he may unwittingly put himself into.

We are allowing him out with trusted friends - his friends that I feel are sensible enough to steer him from doing dangerous stuff or call me if there is a problem. But I am not totally happy entrusting him to them, as it seems a hell of a responsibility to put upon them, yet this has to be traded off with allowing him some "normality"

TessOfTheDinnerbells Tue 19-Jul-11 17:23:49

Uninspired: How old is your ds and how much independence have you managed with his friends?

drivemecrazy63 Tue 19-Jul-11 17:47:29

its a big worry / concern for all of us with dcs as or asd isnt it, my ds is 11 and there seems to be so much danger everywhere , i cant let him go alone to the shops BUT im letting his scan the food and getting him to count out the money ect but traffics a big no go area and so is stranger danger as ds will talk to anyone and everyone. I have let him go with older brother and sister but its still a worry asthey unlike myself dont always see a meltdown comming on and hes a runner for eg: if they say didnt have the correct drink he wanted in the store he could get very upset , i know exactly how to handle this his brother and sister find sittuations as this very hard.
I think I may begin testing different things out during the 6 weeks holiday and just see how he goes with simple things first.

Mitmoo Tue 19-Jul-11 19:08:17

It's a hard one my son is 14, he isn't really pushing yet, he wants to do his hobbies and needs me or his dad (arghhh) to take him there. For places that he is familiar with and he knows the owners those in charge etc. I can now leave him but if it is the same kind of venue but he doesn't know the people then I can't. I've familiarised him with these places. He ventured out to the park which he has done before but the last time he went, he played golf with a stranger who then wanted to give him a lift home.

He didn't go, when he got back I called the police strangers shouldn't be offering kids lifts home IMO. He hasn't been back to the park and that was months ago. So his social life is his two hobbies and venues where he knows everyone he is not yet pushing.

He cant get to school on the bus, not because he doesn't know how but he cant cope with it being crowded, noisy etc. and is scared other kids might have a go at thim so he is driven by me.

Sorry waffling a bit, but thinking about it the boundaries aren't getting pressed yet.

merlincat Tue 19-Jul-11 19:40:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

looneytoons Tue 19-Jul-11 19:43:01

My ds is 13 we let him go to the local shop on his own. When we visit the retail park he will go in the game shop on his own. We cant just let him out to play with other kids as he would be too eaisly led into trouble. He isnt really pushing to go out with other kids he likes to play games via the internet with them. We do let him do cooking as long as one of us is with him he likes to be in charge though.

purplepidjincantatem Tue 19-Jul-11 19:49:35

Could you shadow him on a few trips to the shops? So, the first time you walk with him but don't say anything. Once he's confident with that, you walk a few metres behind and hover at the back of the shop. Then move on to giving him a 1 minute, 2 minute, 5 minute head start (depends how far away the shop is!) Then you can both build your confidence.

Maybe increase the amount of time he can be out for by small amounts. So if his curfew is currently 8, let him be out til 8.15. If he can show that he can relliably be home on time, stretch to 8.30.

All the above come from when I worked in a specialist residential school, btw, so in my experience his requests seem pretty reasonable. Obviously, it depends on your son!

Mitmoo Tue 19-Jul-11 21:23:15

looney my son is too easily led too. He wont steal or be dishonest but he could well get done by guilt by association as the one friend he has, has different problems and takes stuff. My son is honest but if he is with someone who steals he could get tarnished. I don't let him got anywhere with this child apart from my home.

uninspired Tue 19-Jul-11 22:22:31

Tess DS is nearly 13. He's allowed to walk to and from school with a friend if it is pre-arranged and friend comes to call for him. He's allowed to the park at the end of the street with a friend but we spy on him.

He's not allowed to walk on his own, however bitterly resents walking to school with his Mum and younger sister, so walks 10 paces ahead and refuses to acknowledge us and we are not allowed to speak to him at all grin

DS is obsessed with fire, aerosols and making explosions scientific experiements, so leaving him home alone is a big no no.

streakybacon Wed 20-Jul-11 08:03:05

Same as what purplepidjin said - take it in small steps and back off slowly.

My son is 12 and a half and we started a year and a half ago with going to the Metrocentre together, looking at maps and You Are Here boards, locating landmark shops and thinking about how to find his way. We did this a couple of times together before starting to send him off a short way ahead, with a phone to keep in contact if needed, then leading up to going round the shops on his own and meeting me later.

In time we did the same with buses (him getting on one bus and waiting for me at the other end), and now he can confidently do the journey and go shopping on his own. A couple of months ago he started going into Newcastle by himself, involving bus and Metro. He's starting a theatre group in the city centre in september and is keen to make his own way there, which is a great development for him.

Interestingly, most teens learn their independence by first doing all these things with a few friends. It seems harder for us to feel confident to allow our kids out with other teens because of the likelihood that they will be influenced negatively by the company. Ds has done his independence the other way around, on his own, and that's been necessary to give him the confidence to go out with friends.

I should add we've been lucky in that he's been able to do this during quieter times of the day because he's home educated and isn't forced to practice at busier times. I don't think he'd have coped so well (nor I!) if he'd had to find his way around the packed and noisy Metrocentre on a weekend.

Mind you, there's no way I'd let him go to the park etc to hang out with other teens because I know he wouldn't handle the banter and would be a victim, as he has in the past when he was at school. I think you have to take your lead from your child and what they feel comfortable with, and only push those boundaries when you are confident that they are ready to try.

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