I am 18, what can I do

If you were an American (not too sure for other countries), even if you needed a caregiver 24 hours of the time, at age 18 you are an adult. The transition is forced onto everyone. Just because I can talk or write does not mean I have fewer needs, on the contrary, I need support similar to the way the nonverbal autistic sibling need support. It is not functioning, it is still a need.

Ideally, there should be support for autistic adults as long as they need, even if it is lifelong and expensive. As I learned the hard way in my life, it is not the case. We all have to adult and we all grow up.

It is also good to try to plan for adulthood as early as possible. At age 12 or so, one has to begin to train for jobs. In East Asia, where shared autistic homes are prohibitively expensive and seemingly impossible to have, autistic people can find work arrangements. Not to say they are paid lowly, but there is little for these people to share their experiences. I would like to do something about hearing their voice, however, the biggest obstruction would be the organizations that train and work with these people. It is more likely we autistic people are dumped and forced to accept any work arrangements that come in the way, and not fully consider our strengths, our desires and goals, and our motivations to work towards our goals.

However, my view of ageing out is shaped by an experience that jolted me to the ground: my autistic buddy’s mother passed away, he could not find suitable full-time employment as a job placement office only gave him part-time employment, he could not find any more part-time roles, and he was forced out of his home because he could not pay the bills. He is rather verbal and is emotionally far more stable than me, but he is tested to the brink. He did find temporary housing arrangements with our mutual friends. This brought me to think: if my mother (my family’s breadwinner) suddenly dies for some reason (which is becoming more grim than ever), what will I do?

For numerous reasons, I do not expect to claim any insurance payouts. I do not know whether I have to pay for my parents’ healthcare, which are not universal or free in my country. I do not really have enough to feed for myself, even though I do my best to save, or just spend on things that enable me to take side gigs that pay me to pay the bills.

All I know is, transitioning is an ongoing process. Everyone should be aware and doing something about the inevitable stages of life: growing, ageing, being sick and dying. We have our different understanding of life. To my experience, it may surprise to you but I find highly successful doctors and lawyers not ‘getting’ ageing as well as younger people who are socially inept, speak minimally, but somehow get ‘moved’ by the thought of ageing . Some day, though, we all will learn.

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