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Living Alone: Tips for Adults with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

“Living alone” is coming out of the closet as more and more Aspergers adults find themselves alone. It can be tough to adjust to going solo. If you're an adult Aspie living alone - or are about to move out on your own - there are a few things to keep in mind to ease the transition and remain connected to the world around you.

To live alone doesn't automatically mean you're lonely. In fact, you can learn to enjoy solitude just as much as spending time with other people. Here are some tips:

1. Avoid convenience food. Even though it sucks to cook for yourself, convenience foods are expensive and rarely good for you. Plus cooking can be an expressive art form in itself, not to mention a rewarding skill to cultivate, as well as a pleasant way to fill up what might otherwise be an empty evening.

2. Avoid television (a time-eating, life-sucking device in the wrong hands). Unless you can dole out to yourself only shows you mindfully enjoy, cancel your cable. Don’t waste your life.

3. Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol are ready substitutes for everything missing in your life. Beware replacing missing chunks of life with addiction.

4. Be safe. Living in a safe area and feeling secure in your new place will grant you peace of mind. A good security system doesn't hurt, either.

5. Call friends and family back home when you feel down. Sometimes all you need is a pep talk from your friends or just to hear a family member's voice to remind you that you're not alone.

6. Connect to the people around you. Sometimes you just have to get yourself out there and say "hi." If you live alone in an apartment complex or condo, go to the sponsored events and talk to at least three new people before you go home.

7. Consider church. One of the biggest benefits of church is having yet another avenue of community (e.g., friendly faces to see, groups to join, etc.). Church will also remind you (in a message worthwhile no matter your beliefs) to forgive others, forgive yourself, be kind, tell the truth, be in the present moment, enjoy life, help people who need help, and share – all good stuff. Anything that maintains mental health is good for singles (who tend as a group to neglect themselves).

8. Don't forget healthy living. It is necessary to take proper care of your health when you are living alone. Try to keep your living place neat and clean.

9. Enjoy the perks of living alone. Decorate however you want to, leave dirty dishes in the sink, walk around in your underwear, make rude noises, or have a solo jam fest to your favorite music. You'll never have to share the remote or the bathroom, and you're free to do what you like.

10. Enjoy your entertainment. Listen to your music and read books of your choice. In the afternoon you can take a cup of tea or coffee staying in the balcony. Watch TV or movie and be relaxed. Extend the breadth of your world.

11. Exercise. The benefits (e.g., socialization, better sleep, better able to handle stress, etc.) make it even more valuable for people who have to deal with the stress of handling most every crisis alone. Regular exercise gives you a place to spend time being social and staying healthy, and having a workout friend (or just people who know you at the gym or on your running route) is yet another avenue of healthy, nourishing interaction.

12. Get a pet. Rescue a cat or dog from a shelter. Having a furry friend to take care of will keep you on track. You will be surprised at the love you will feel for the animal you bring into your home, and the companionship and love it will provide. You can also meet new people walking your dog or taking your ferret to the pet store.

13. Have a form of creative expression that is meaningful and fun to do. Whether you design homes, sew, build birdhouses, dance, sing or flip around on a pommel horse, try to find something yours to do, and explore it deeply and visit it often. Call what you do “art” and take it seriously.

14. Join a local group or organization in your area. Volunteer at a local shelter, nursing home, or other charitable organization. You can connect to your community and make new friends.

15. Keep in Touch with friends and family. You're not an island. Go to the movies, out to dinner, out with friends, or invite friends in. Don't forget to have fun.

16. Stick to a schedule. With no one else in the house, you’ll feel like you have greater freedom to sleep in, lie around, and do nothing. While this is hard to combat, keep your mind aware of it and try not to waste life in being slow and dull. Having a regular schedule of a time to wake, work out, eat, etc. helps keep time from getting away from you.

17. Keep your home environment pleasant and clean. You’re going to be spending a lot of time there. Make it a place you like being in.

18. Learn to shop for one. You're making meals for one person. And you only need kitchen service for a minimal number.

19. Look out for the “me disease.” This happens when you reach a place of stress and isolation so awful that it shifts your perceptions so that it becomes difficult to see other people’s lives through their experiences. You can only see things through the lens of your own suffering. You’ll know you have this self-centered disease when you stop thinking about the people you love and what is going on in their lives. Look out for it, and fight it by asking people how they are, and listening to what they say.

20. Surf the web for connections with others. The computer is a great means to chase the blues away and reach out to people you'll never even meet. Join newsgroups, chat rooms, and web forums to stay connected.

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