Autism FAQ - Coping

Where Autistic People generally live

In general, autistic people have the same living options as people with other disabilities, which ideally are matched with the individual's capabilities.

Children: While there were times in the past when autistic children would likely be located at an institution, today they almost invariably reside with their parents.

Respite: Families caring of a disabled person can be tied down to a much greater extent than than other families. Autistic children are individuals and the amount of supervision autistic children require varies, but in general, there is an extra burden on the parents which in many cases is severe. Providing the care and supervision can possibly require as much effort as would an additional full time job.

Respite service is typically provided by government agencies to give such families an occasional break from the responsibilities. It may consist of providing someone to look after the child for a few hours, or it may be a group home (see below) set up to take the child for a weekend on occasion.

Adults: Autistic adults unable to cope with their own residence also were likely to live in an institution such as a state-run facility. Alternatively, they might live with relatives.

In place of institutions, now group homes and assisted living are more generally used. A group home might have 4 permanent residents, with two staff members for most of the waking hours and 1 staff member while the residents sleep.

Assisted living is for autistic people able to cope under less supervision than a group home provides. The exact situation would be tailored to the individuals, but an example would be two autistic people sharing an apartment, visited by a representative of social services daily.

Those families who take care of adult autistic family members might make use of respite services (see above).

Other aids to living and communication

For basic communication, nonverbal autistic people are sometimes taught sign language, or to use communication boards or electronic communication devices such as the Cannon Communicator. The latter is similar to a Brother labelmaker, being an electronic device designed to allow the disabled who can type to communicate during daily life.

Facilitated Communication (see under "Educational Methods") can be used in conjunction with a Canon Communicator or communication board, but in other cases, the individual may be able to point or type independently.

The Internet has been a boon to some autistic people, opening avenues of communication that are more suited to their abilities than face-to-face communication.

Social Signal Dogs are rarely used but have been discussed on the list. It is a working dog, similar to a seeing eye dog that assists an autistic person in their daily life.