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Stay-At-Home Adults with Asperger's Syndrome - Part 1 Are there Any Reasons?

It's becoming an increasingly common story, a capable 20+ year old with Asperger's syndrome, living at home with their parents, unwilling to leave the comfort of the house - or their gaming console.

There's a lot to discuss in this scenario but I want to break it down into three posts.

  • Reasons for the Behaviour
  • Preventing the Behaviour 
  • Changing the Behaviour

In this post, I want to touch on whether or not there are valid excuses for this behaviour.

Excuse or No Excuse?

For the most part, there aren't too many good excuses for this kind of behaviour in a young adult with reasonable communication skills.  Asperger's syndrome itself is not an excuse.

That said, there are actually, some good excuses for this kind of behaviour;

Lower Functioning Individuals; 

I specifically mentioned “capable” earlier as a means of “filtering out” individuals who have difficulties which are significant enough to make them a danger to themselves or others, or who for intellectual or executive functioning reasons, can't perform any job or cannot leave the house without appropriate supervision.

In adults, these traits would have to be pretty severe as there are many individuals in the workforce who are great examples of what others with similar issues can achieve.

Drug dependence. 

Some prescribed medications and some recreational drugs will prevent some individuals from going out in public.

If it's a recreational drug "habit" then, as parents, that's probably your first responsibility. There's no point in helping a person with a drug problem to get a job. You need to help them off the drugs first -- and you can't do that without their co-operation.

If it's prescribed, then there's little that you can do (if the drug is absolutely needed). Don't forget that people often grow out of prescription drugs. By that, I mean that they continue to use them long after the drug has lost its effectiveness. You may once your children reach their late teens, you should be looking at whether or not they still need to be on the medications they needed for school.  Chances are that they've learned to self-regulate -- or if they haven't yet, then with reduced drug usage, perhaps they can.

The other thing to remember is that there are other drugs about. If you find that one "necessary" medication prevents your child from functioning well, you might want to ask your doctor if there are any alternatives.

Other conditions

Asperger's by itself isn't enough to force a person to remain at home but remember, Asperger's is rarely a lone traveler. Some of the common co-conditions such as; severe anxiety, oppositional defiant syndrome (ODS), Bi-Polar, depression  or schizophrenia can make work impossible.

If your child has experienced trauma, you need to remember that sometimes this can produce a form of Post-Traumatic Distreas Syndrome (PTDS).

As the strength and impact of these varies from one individual to another, you'll need to deal with these before tackling the job situation. 

Apart from these conditions, (and probably quite a few others I've missed), there's no reason why a person with Asperger's syndrome cannot live a full and functional life after school.  Computer game addiction is obviously a significant factor, as is run-of-the-mill anxiety.

Next Time: I want to cover some of the ways in which you can enable your children in their formative years and help them to grow into independent adults. Effectively, correcting the problem before it happens. 


Adelaide Dupont said…

Isn't this phenomenon part of the "leisure classes" a lot of us aspired to and foresaw in the 1960s and 1970s?

A subset of neurotypicals who are just as capable also live this way. So that may take the "excuse" part out. And make us look at larger demographic and sociological implications.

I think also that the rise of computer games and the rise of deinstitutionalisation are more than causally linked.

People found a way to keep people at home which was socially acceptable and really cool and that brought people into each other's homes.

This is really the first time that a big generation has been doing this.

Is there a bit of an underclass thing going on? A lot of popular thought has been going on around the "basement" which is a shaming discourse.

Also there has been a lot of bringing services to the home. Computer games are a service too, as you may appreciate in one of your past roles as a sysadmin.

And wouldn't it be great for the gamers to live together? That would be one possibility.

People have all their lives to stay home. In fact in their 50s and 60s computer games might be a dementia-free hobby and a significant part of community living.

There is this Indian woman on Quora who is really interested in this.

Jordyn from Kabuki Unfiltered wrote about 10 years of her life which she spent dancing in her room to go into her own world.

I think a lot of Aspies in the 1990s were institutionalised too early in their lives before they developed a strong sense of place or home. And most of their lives have already been spent in institutions not built for them.

So no wonder their homes are a priority to them.

I think also a lot of people have become suspicious or fearful of unstructured sociality.
Unknown said…
This is a very informative post, thanks. It's terrible that some people feel unable to leave their homes and are too anxious to do so. I suppose before video games they may still have stayed at home, they may just have had other things they did.
Unknown said…
I fear this fate for myself. I feel that I cannot find a fulfilling job.
Anonymous said…
We have to consider the kind of social contact we are asking people to engage in. Zero contract high hours low pay jobs and then what? the street corner or local park to hang out with people who are more than likely going to take advantage of their disability. Can we really be so surprised that, after a 15 to 19 year social experience at some overcrowded, uncaring, mass output school whose only concern was the league tables?
My son is 22 and suffers terribly from social anxiety syndrome along with mild Aspergers. He was un-diagnosed as a child and suffered massive and awful bullying at school without ever telling anyone.

He now sits at home on his computer after going to college and getting an engineering degree. Some will be shouting 'what a waste of all that training'. Well it was awfully hard to get him to go but he did, and he passed and now he works from home as an engineering consultant. We work on his anxiety issues every week trying to slowly push his comfort zones but its a long battle and I don't know if we'll ever win the war but would a 0 hours, full of stress and little reward slave position suit him? I think probably not.

One also has to wonder how many of these so called 'stay at home adults' have simply taken a stance against the sad and totally lacking quality of employment available these days to anyone, let alone those of us with mental issues?
Anonymous said…
"Apart from these conditions, (and probably quite a few others I've missed), there's no reason why a person with Asperger's syndrome cannot live a full and functional life after school."

One of the ones you missed here is the amount of demand for the labor a person with or without Asperger's syndrome can supply.

What if there are 50 capable young adults in a community but the employers in that community only have enough customer demand to themselves afford and demand 40 people's worth of work?

No matter how fantastically qualified at everything all 50 may be, 10 will still be left unemployed or have to leave for other communities (like migrant workers leaving Mexico, the Philippines, India, etc. for the U.S.).

Maybe you'd like to read The Age of Oversupply: Overcoming the Greatest Challenge to the Global Economy by Daniel Alpert too. It has a lot more on this issue.
Anonymous said…
"And wouldn't it be great for the gamers to live together? That would be one possibility."

Maybe if gamers knew they might be with other gamers in person in the future, the ones who scream rape threats and death threats at other gamers through remote voice connections would stop it?
Anonymous said…
I was employed but I ended up quitting my full time job. It became so bloody awful I actually developed an ulcer which is finally beginning to heal. My anxiety got so bad that for an entire season I completely shutdown. I was working in a severely dysfunctional environment with an incompetent boss and even after discussing with her how I was being bullied and emotionally singled out for consistent torture, nothing was done. I came to believe that I deserved the torture for some bizarre social rulebook reason. The problem with NT people is they expect someone with aspergers to just snap out of it and be normal. If normal is gossiping and making fun of people's differences I want no part in it. I've even considered breaking up with my boyfriend, because lately he has been making "fun" about some mentally disabled people. When he went on his last joke I just stared off into space and he realized he was being a jerk, just like my former coworkers that called me the walking Google. I don't understand the need for NTs to make jokes about those they deem less than they are for X reason. I am so sick of the psuedo superiority of the NT world, I've come to actually feel liberated by quitting my job, because I no longer have to exhaust myself everyday by reading between the lines of the ridiculous rules of fitting in.

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