What behaviors make it hard for individuals with autism to maintain housing?

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    Facebook Profile photoShannon Doty

    What behaviors should I be targeted early to ensure that they do not impact housing? Do you have any advice as to how I can best work on these behaviors?

    Desiree Kameka

    Individuals on the autism spectrum have unique qualities and support needs that can make it difficult to maintain a good relationship with neighbors and landlords who don’t actively want to support their housing success. Knowing about some challenges ahead of time may help in planning to reduce risk for those who are looking for consumer-controlled options:

    1) Many adults with disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum, live on a fixed income. Unfortunately, the housing fluctuates without consideration of those who do not have much financial wiggle room. Even if affordable housing can be found, landlords may increase rent when a lease agreement is up if they know they can find a renter who can afford higher rent. This situation has caused many on a fixed income to move or get a roommate.

    2) Sleeping patterns are not always consistent for those on the spectrum. Jumping, pacing, rocking may cause noise that would disturb neighbors in apartment buildings trying to sleep. They may then complain to the landlord, or even harass the individual who has trouble sleeping without understanding that behavior is not malicious nor intentionally disrespectful, but is a coping mechanism that is part of that person’s disability.

    3) Some individuals who are sensory seeking or sometimes have outbursts of aggression may cause damages to property such as holes in walls, damage to flooring, water damage from waterplay, etc. which can negatively impact their relationship with their landlord or neighbors. ‘Homes That Work’ by George Braddock is a great resource for housing modification.

    4) Individuals on the spectrum may not realize when their interactions with a neighbor have become inappropriate. Without neighbors understanding some of the characteristics or even challenges of those on the spectrum, it is easy for assumptions to be made. Whether it is someone feeling threatened by harmless advances, neighbors feeling smothered by unwanted visits, or a stigma is being placed on them because neighbors witness behavior they do not understand, the need for neighbors to have the opportunity to be educated and discuss their concerns is crucial. Without understanding, results can be a painful loss of feelings of belonging at best or intervention by the police at worst.

    5) Mate-crime is common among those on the spectrum. Being able to have the social skills to decipher whether a neighbor is truly looking out for you or is using a false-friendship to manipulate you can be a challenge for many on the spectrum. It is important to have friends or staff that have known you for at least a year and can help you determine if your neighbor is a friend or a foe.

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