When I was in elementary school, my parents took good care of me. They made me school lunches, taught me manners, paid for everything I wanted, and regulated my diet and exercise. Today, I look back and realized how thankful I am for having parents who clearly cared a lot about me and loved me deeply. Now in my mid-twenties, I realize how many life skills I have today. However, I’m only a year out of college and also have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. I still have many skills I need to learn. As of right now, I’m still living at home with my family, while searching for an apartment. As a freelance Web Designer, I am currently working with about seven clients on their websites. When my parents were in their twenties, more college graduates were completely self-sufficient. Today, more college graduates are moving back in with their parents. I have learned more things this year than ever through my work and current lifestyle.

I still feel like I need to ask my parents for advice. That may be typical for someone my age, and many young adults need help from their parents from time to time. As a man with Asperger’s, I seem “typical” when people first meet me. Once I tell them I’m an individual with Asperger’s, they start to notice it in me. Even today, I still struggle with basic communication, especially when I am communicating with a client. My parents are kind enough to help me communicate with some of my clients. Whenever there is an issue that I’m anxious to tell a client, my parents’ writing skills go a long way. I’m quick to feel like I need to give in to every client request right away, even if I can’t, but have learned that as a freelancer, I always need to protect myself while also working the hardest I possibly can. I have learned a lot about general communication through my work this year. As a result, I’ve become increasingly more independent. As my parents were always easygoing, they supported me financially through high school and college. Until this year, I was the worst with finances. I now make my own earnings and pay my freelance quarterly taxes. My parents are currently still paying for having a roof over my head, memorable family vacations, insurance and phone bills, and wonderful family dinners. As a passionate young, growing businessman, I learned that being independent requires taking risks and solving my own problems.

There are two types of “independence” for me: one that I would like and one that I wouldn’t. The “independence” that I would like is to have my own apartment, where I could bring a girl and many friends without feeling embarrassed. While I’m excited to move out, I’m also anxious about it. I’m mostly anxious about the living expenses and major responsibilities I will have to deal with when I move out. Having to think about making rent, maintenance, and many other fees make me more anxious about moving out. Those are the primary reasons why I’ve put the apartment search off for almost a year.

As a man with Asperger’s, my anxiety worsens when I think about independence. Many people on the Spectrum struggle with difficult situations, social conversation, and understanding basic concepts. I have come a long way since I was a nonverbal two and a half year old child. Like others with Asperger’s, I still find social conversation and understanding some basic concepts harder for me than others. As a man on the Spectrum, I feel somewhat “babied” compared to other 24-year-olds. I still reflect on my past, which included daily intervention as a child, bad social experiences, and more to overcome than neurotypicals. Since I’m currently living at home, there are times when my parents still feel the need to take blame for anything I do wrong. Since I’m well over 18, I can only blame myself for my own problems these days. My parents have always been wonderful and supportive, but they certainly should not be taking responsibility for my problems. To me, it feels my two youngest siblings, who are in high school, seem to have more freedom than I did when I was their age. My parents had told me that the oldest is the most likely to be “babied.” As I was the oldest of four children, I can see how they would tell me that. However, I’m sometimes curious if maybe it’s because of my diagnosis of Asperger’s. Regardless, I know my parents love me more than I deserve and have always been there for me since the day I was born.

Fortunately, I’ve found ways to battle my anxiety. My current workflow has made me grow more than I thought. If it weren’t for my passion in Web Design, I wouldn’t be contributing to the world in a meaningful way like I am today. I’ve also been working out and meditating more lately than I used to, which are scientifically known to be anxiety “killers.” I may not be doing special intervention like I did when I was little, but I still see therapists from time to time to help me with my personal struggles. I will continue to keep up the hard work and I will find more ways to battle my personal struggles as time goes on. I know it will get better from here.

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