Human beings thrive when they have a sense of purpose. This feeling of purpose comes from many different aspects of our lives – family, hobbies, work, etc. We often struggle when an area of our life feels unfulfilled if that’s how we define our purpose.
In my daily interactions with adults on the autism spectrum, I observe gaps in their lives that often lead them to feel isolated or unsure of the process of finding a hobby, dating, or meaningful employment. Part of the process of independent living is encouraging clients to seek out resources to assist them in these areas, and providing coaching on the appropriate steps to take to fulfill these needs.
I observe gaps in their lives that often lead them to feel isolated or unsure of the process.
It is also important to note that how individuals define purpose may change over the course of their lives. At one stage in our lives, employment may be an area that gives us great meaning. At another time, creating a family or finding a new hobby may feel most important. Understanding this metamorphosis is critical in assisting adults on the spectrum with navigating changing needs in their lives. Sometimes there is a misconception that once an individual obtains a job, that is meaningful employment for them. That often is not the case. Hobbies also often change and exposure to different areas of creative expression allows choice and evolution.
On another note, friendships and romantic partnerships can be challenging for neurotypical individuals, and may be extra challenging for adults on the spectrum. As people grow, our wants and needs of other people in our lives usually shifts. Allowing individuals on the spectrum space and safety to navigate these relationships helps them find fulfillment in this area of their lives.
Exposure is the most important step in assisting your adult with becoming a well-rounded individual and finding purpose from multiple outlets:
- Expose them to hobbies early in life. Allow them space to explore options, and provide experiences that create the possibility of these options. These hobbies can be art, sports, animals, music, etc. A variety of opportunities in these areas ensure more of a possibility that your adult will find lasting purpose in at least one hobby.
- Create a safe space for the exploration of friendships and romantic partnerships. Individuals on the spectrum sometimes struggle with accessing these areas of their lives, so need intentional creation of opportunities to engage and find what they like and do not like. It is a misconception that because individuals may not pursue these opportunities, that they are not interested. Often, they are unsure of the process and need consistent processing and coaching.
- Take time to understand the interests of your adult in the career field. Again, exposing them to career exploration early in life creates opportunities for them to engage enough to think about their path. People are often only able to choose what they know. If we do not know an option exists, how can we choose it? In addition, once an adult on the spectrum obtains a job doesn’t mean that they are finding fulfillment in it. Finding fulfillment helps to find purpose. As the individual evolves, they are able to take on more or different tasks. Make sure to check in periodically on job fulfillment.
Helping adults on the spectrum find purpose and proving exposure are only part of the how CA Human Services helps clients launch into independent living. Read additional blogs about CA’s programs here: Residence Program and here: Successfully Independent
To learn more about CA’s Programs visit our website: https://www.commonwealthautism.org/adolescent-and-adult-programs/
CA is here if you need assistance with information or resources for supporting yourself or loved one with autism. Simply call our toll-free number 800-649-8481, send us an email, or search our resources for autism related services throughout Virginia.