BREAKING NEWS: I TURNED 18!!!
Yes, I am an adult. To be honest, I don’t exactly “feel” like one yet. I think it would be helpful to share some of the experiences I have gone through during this exciting and important transition period in my life. I know that within the Autism industry, there is less support for adults with Autism than there are for children. But guess what, kids grow up and still need support too.
I feel that within my own life, my parents have become less of a “manager” and more of an “advisor” for me. They have taken a small step back and have allowed me to try and figure things out on my own. Of course, no parents are perfect… but I sincerely appreciate the space my parents have given me during this time of transition, knowing how hard it is for them to do so. There have been three main lifestyle changes now that I am eighteen, which regard: money management, citizenship and/or administrative work, and personal relationships.
I have always been fiscally responsible. Since the age of ten, my hyperfocus (also known as special interest) has been on entrepreneurship. For many years now, I have been in control of my own finances, just with my parents’ names as co signers on bank accounts so they could review. When I was thirteen years old, I got teen savings and checking accounts from my bank. Ever since that point, I have been building a strong financial future for myself. In addition, at age fifteen, I opened up a custodial brokerage account so I could start investing in stocks, index funds, and bonds. My parents have always had trust in me to be responsible with my money, which is why a few days after my birthday, my parents and I went into the bank and converted my teen accounts into everyday accounts (without my parents as co signers). I also was able to be approved for a credit card in order to start establishing a credit history for myself. And if you are wondering, yes, I always pay it off!
The next lifestyle change of mine has been what I call “citizenship and/or administrative work.” I could not find a category title that was succinct yet encompassing of all subcategories, so I had to make this one a little bit wordy. For citizenship, I registered to vote three days after I became an adult. I have always been politically active and up to date on current political events, so this was a no brainer for me. The next part, however, is a bit more difficult. As an adult, my parents are not allowed to schedule any of my appointments! I signed waivers which allow them to stay a part of my IEP at school and regional center support plans, but all of the other institutions which I would normally have appointments will not allow my parents to schedule anything anymore. Time management is something that I continue to struggle with and am working extremely hard on, so it’s natural that being my own appointment booker is challenging. I have overbooked a few things so far but have tried to learn from my mistakes so I can better manage my time and day to day affairs better.
Lastly, I have made a conscious lifestyle choice in my personal relationships. I had a moment of insight a while back when I started to contemplate all of the choices I have made in my life relating to friendships. I began to evaluate each of my friends at the time and think to myself: “Is this person worth it? Is he/she putting in as much time and effort into the relationship as I am?” After evaluating my friends, I made some decisions. By no means did I stop being friends with any of these people. I realized which people are most important in my life. Instead of spreading my time and effort out equally between all friends, I have made the choice to spend more time, therefore developing stronger relationships, with the people who put in mutual time and effort.
I understand that I will need more help than my neurotypical peers during this transition. From the feedback I have received so far, I seem to be doing a pretty good job at it though. I cannot wait for the future brings for me!