I am twenty one years old now, and I know that most people my age tend to spend their time with people of the same age. They might be away at university and living with their friends, or they might just be hanging around with them, and going on nights out. Most people in their teens, and early twenties don’t spend a lot of time doing things with their Mum and Dad, but I do – as do a lot of other autistic people I know. So why is this? And is there anything wrong with this?
Well first of all no, there is nothing wrong with spending time with whomever you like. But why is it that autistic people often spend more time with their parents than non-autistic people? Firstly autistic people can find it hard to socialize, and therefore making friends in the first place can be hard. Their parents will often know, and understand more about their autism than any friends might, and therefore be more willing to plan trips out instead of trying to do them on the spur of the moment. For myself I know that I don’t have to make an effort to talk if I don’t want to. If I go out then the fact of being somewhere noisy and busy might be overwhelming for me, and in order to enjoy it I might just need to not talk, or not talk a lot. If I was out with friends this might be hard, but my parents understand and don’t try and force things. I know that I don’t have to try and fit in the as the people I am out with understand me, and know why I act the way I do.
I never feel embarrassed to be out with my parents, but I know some people with autism might. More so if they look around, and see other people their own age out with friends, or girlfriends. But this is the thing, there is no reason really why it’s not OK to go out with your family. If someone wanted to go out, but found it hard to do so on their own and was faced with the choice between not going out, and going out with their Mum or Dad then it seems odd to me that they would pick not going out. Also going out and spending time with your family does not mean you don’t have friends. I do have friends, but I don’t want to see them all the time. I do go out with them occasionally, but most of the time I go out with my Mum or Dad. For me there is nothing wrong with this; like I say it is often easier to plan for, and to do than going out with other people who might not understand my autism as much.
I spend time with my family because I know that I can be myself around them, and because I know they understand about my autism. But also because I can think logically, and I know there is nothing wrong with going out and about with your parents no matter what your age. I could go out and make more friends, and go out with them more often, but I don’t want to. I feel happy in the way I do things now, and I don’t think that if you’re an autistic adult who spends a lot of time with their family, or goes out with them a lot rather than people your own age, you need to feel like this is a bad thing. Do whatever you feel most at ease with, and whatever allows you to have the best time when you are out.
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