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How Many Adults with Autism Live Independently?

Discover how many adults with autism live independently, the challenges they face, and resources that aid them.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
May 21, 2024
7 min read
min read

Autism in the U.S.

Autism, a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, is prevalent in adults across the United States. It's important to understand the scale of the situation as it forms the basis for discussing the complexities of independent living among adults diagnosed with autism.

Prevalence of Autism in Adults

It's estimated that 1 in 45 adults in the U.S. have autism, highlighting the significant number of adults with autism in the country Autism Speaks. This figure underscores the importance of providing appropriate support and services for autistic adults, particularly when it comes to fostering independence and autonomy.

The exact number of adults with autism living independently is not known. However, it is clear that the ability to live independently varies greatly among individuals with autism, and is influenced by a variety of factors, including the severity of symptoms and the availability of support services Adult Autism Center.

As we delve further into the topic of how many adults with autism live independently, it's crucial to consider the spectrum of 'independent living'. For some, this might mean living entirely on their own, while for others it could involve supported living or supervised group living arrangements Adult Autism Center.

In the following sections, we will explore the options, skills, challenges, and outcomes associated with independent living for autistic adults, as well as the support and services available to them.

Living Independently with Autism

For adults with autism, living independently can be both a goal and a challenge. The level of independence an individual can achieve often depends on the severity of their symptoms and their ability to manage daily tasks Adult Autism Center.

Options for Independent Living

There are a variety of living arrangements available for adults with autism, each offering a different level of support and independence. These options include:

  • Independent living: This involves living without any formal support, but the individual may receive informal assistance from family and friends.
  • Supported living: In this setting, adults with autism live in their own home but receive support services to help them manage daily tasks and responsibilities.
  • Supervised group living: This option provides the most support, with adults living in a group setting where staff are available to assist with daily tasks and activities.

Each of these options presents its own set of advantages and challenges, and the best choice will depend on the individual's needs, skills, and personal preferences.

Skills for Independent Living

Regardless of the living arrangement, there are certain skills that are essential for independent living. These skills include:

  • Self-care: This encompasses personal hygiene, grooming, and healthcare management.
  • Home living: This involves managing household tasks such as cleaning, laundry, and basic home maintenance.
  • Money management: This includes budgeting, paying bills, and managing a bank account.
  • Cooking and nutrition: This involves planning meals, grocery shopping, and preparing and cooking food.

Developing these skills can greatly enhance an individual's ability to live independently and maintain a high quality of life. However, it's important to note that the journey towards independent living may require time, patience, and plenty of practice. Support from family, friends, and professional services can play a crucial role in this process.

Challenges and Outcomes

When considering the question of how many adults with autism live independently, there are various factors to take into account. These factors can influence the ability of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to live independently, and they also play a significant role in the outcomes of independent living.

Factors Affecting Independence

Several factors influence the ability of adults with ASD to live independently. As per a study cited by PubMed, these include psychophysical stability and daily living, financial management, and integrated community living and housing.

Self-awareness is another crucial factor. The ability of individuals with autism spectrum disorder to be aware of themselves emotionally, physically, and cognitively to create and attain their goals is an important aspect of independence [1].

Equally important are functional communication skills. They are crucial for individuals with ASD to express desires, feelings, and concerns to those they live or interact with, contributing significantly to their ability to live independently.

Outcomes of Independent Living

The outcomes of independent living for adults with autism vary significantly. According to a study published in PubMed Central, estimated percentages indicate that 20.0% of autistic adults were rated as having a good outcome, 26.6% a fair outcome, and 49.3% a poor outcome. IQ in adulthood was predictive of the outcome; a higher IQ in adulthood was associated with a lower proportion of poor outcomes.

However, a study cited by NCBI reveals that 79% of adults with autism in the study lived independently, while 21% lived with parents/family, in housing with support and/or care, or in a healthcare facility. Older participants, women, and those with higher self-reported IQs were more likely to live independently. Autistic adults living independently were equally satisfied with their accommodation and neighborhood as the comparison group, but were less satisfied with their life in general.

Study Good Outcome Fair Outcome Poor Outcome
PubMed Central 20.0% 26.6% 49.3%
NCBI 79% - 21%

These findings underscore the complexity of independent living for adults with autism. The outcomes are influenced by a variety of factors, including individual characteristics, abilities, and the support services available. Therefore, it's essential to consider these factors when evaluating the feasibility and outcomes of independent living for adults with autism.

Support and Services

Navigating adulthood while living with autism presents its own set of challenges. However, numerous support programs and resources are available to assist adults with autism in achieving their highest possible level of independence.

Programs for Autistic Adults

Organizations such as Easterseals and the Adult Autism Center play a pivotal role in providing services and resources to adults with autism. Easterseals offers a comprehensive range of services to navigate barriers commonly encountered by adults with autism. These include support in finding a job, college attendance, day programs, exploring housing options for independent living, managing finances, transportation solutions, and engaging in community and recreational activities [2].

In a similar vein, the Adult Autism Center aims to foster greater independence and personal growth. The center dedicates its services and resources to adults with autism, addressing a gap in the services available. It provides critical guidance on self-care, home living, money management, cooking, and nutrition, which are vital skills for independent living [3].

Resources for Independent Living

Various "independent living" options are available for adults with autism, including independent living, supported living, and supervised group living, depending on the severity of one's symptoms [3]. Independent living for adults with autism entails mastering important skills such as self-care, home living, money management, cooking, and nutrition.

Moving into one's own place is a common goal among adults with autism. However, considerations like self-care, home living skills, money management, and nutrition need to be addressed before taking this step [3].

Studies provide insight into the challenges faced by adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) related to independent living. These findings can help inform the development of programs and services to facilitate independent living for adults with ASD.

Living Situation Percentage of Adults with Autism
Live independently 79%
Live with parents/family, in housing with support/care, or in a healthcare facility 21%

Data courtesy NCBI

As indicated by Therapeutic Pathways, the focus of intervention services is to help individuals with autism achieve their highest possible level of independence. Treatment plans should be individualized and focused on each person's passions, interests, and skillsets. With the right support and resources, people with autism spectrum disorder can date, make friends, attend college, get married, become parents, and have a satisfying career.

Perspectives on Independent Living

Delving into the perspectives of independent living among adults with autism, it's crucial to consider both stakeholder insights and the personal development aspect.

Stakeholder Insights

Limited research exists regarding the challenges that adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may face when attempting to live independently [4]. To help address this gap, a study was conducted involving 19 stakeholders, including adults with ASD and parents of adults with ASD from Canadian provinces. They came together to examine perspectives about independent living among adults with ASD.

Three major themes emerged from the study concerning the ability of adults with ASD to live independently. These themes were:

  1. Psychophysical Stability and Daily Living
  2. Financial Management and Planning
  3. Integrated Community Living and Independence

Each of these elements was found to significantly influence the ability of adults with ASD to live independently.

Personal Development and Independence

When it comes to personal development and independence, the findings from the study provide valuable insights. Factors related to psychophysical stability and daily living, financial management, and integrated community living and housing, all influence the ability of adults with ASD to live independently.

These insights into the challenges faced by adults with ASD in relation to independent living can help inform the development of programs and services. By addressing these identified areas of concern, these programs and services can better facilitate independent living for adults with ASD.

In conclusion, understanding the perspectives of various stakeholders and acknowledging the personal development aspect are key areas to focus on when addressing the question of 'how many adults with autism live independently'. The information gathered can be used to tailor support services and programs to the specific needs of adults with autism, allowing them to lead more independent lives.

References

[1]: https://www.tpathways.org/faqs/can-a-person-with-autism-spectrum-disorder-live-an-independent-adult-life/

[2]: https://www.easterseals.com/support-and-education/living-with-autism/autism-after-age-21.html

[3]: https://adultautismcenter.org/blog/autism-independent-living/

[4]: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34600352/

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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