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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.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Turn Your Passion into a Career: 15 Tips for Aspergers Adults

Showing Aspies how to follow their passion is one of my favorite topics. Thus, I want to share these valuable and actionable tips on how to turn an activity that you love into a money-making proposition:

1. A bad attitude can be your worst enemy. It’s far too easy to feel defeated or depressed when things get difficult. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader, fire up your ambition to succeed and listen to your gut. If it’s telling you to get out of what you’re currently doing, or away from the path that you’re on now, listen carefully.

2. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t quit your “boring” job unless you have at least 3 months worth of living expenses saved up.

3. Competition can be daunting. And in this economy, it can be even harder to break free from the pack. Whether you’re fully employed, trying to get recognized for bigger opportunities, struggling to find a job when everyone seems to be looking, or fighting every day to build more business, separate from the pack. Most people stick to small confined areas where they fight like mad to compete for the same pool opportunities or resources. The competition gets so fierce that it often gets bloody. However, the world is huge and vast and loaded with abundance. You just have to start looking where others are not – where no one else is or few others have ventured.

4. Even if your passion is obscure and not easily translatable into a job, being extremely good at it means that others will often invent services for you. For example, Kseniya Simonova’s passion is sand art. Despite it being an obscure field without many opportunities, she manages to earn a living because she’s so good at it, nobody can ignore her. Do your best to become great at what you love and it will be hard not to find work!

5. Find role models who are making money doing what you want to do – and unabashedly copy them! Try to work out the steps they took to get where they are. Did they get formal training? Where did they start off? When did they get their big break? How did they develop their skills? By copying what has worked before, you’ll have a path to follow.

6. Focus on slow and steady development of your business or career. Try to improve one thing about you or your business every day.

7. If you can put some element of your passion business or job online, do so – it will drastically increase your potential audience and client base.

8. If you’re not yet skilled in your passion, you may need to do an apprenticeship of sorts before you start thinking about earning money. This period will help to set you up for future successes. As an apprentice, aim to get your skills to the point where you are not making too many mistakes, even if your work lacks some polish and finesse. Depending on your passion, you may be entirely self-taught in this period, or decide to get some formal training. Whatever path you take, find someone – or a community of people – who can give feedback on your work.

9. In the beginning, experience is more valuable than money. While it shouldn’t be necessary to work for free, don’t worry if you start off earning or charging much less than you eventually hope to earn. Don’t expect your business or career path to be fully developed from the first day. The process of charging higher rates, making more sales, or earning a high salary will come with time, and you’ll be able to move closer to your goals as you get better at what you do. In the meantime, part of your “payment” is simply being able to practice your passion, and the happiness you get from that.

10. It’s important not to become overwhelmed in the early days. Focus on one thing at a time – whether that’s one client, one project, or a single product. Complete it to the best of your abilities, then move on to the next one. With each successful job, project or product completed, you’ll increase your chances of more coming in the future.

11. It's a lot easier to get an interview if someone within the company vouches for you, so get out there and meet people in your desired field. Scope out some local business networking events, grab your business cards, and start schmoozing. You can also set up an informational interview, where you chat with someone in the industry to get a feel for what you need to know. You'll gain valuable insight into your new career path, and, if you're lucky, you might even get yourself a job offer out of it. If your dream job involves working for yourself, networking is just as important. You need to build up that client base so you can afford to keep the lights on. It's also helpful to build up a support system of other local entrepreneurs, so that you have a network of people who you can bounce ideas off of or ask for help when you're stuck.

12. Opportunity comes in many forms. Not just jobs. Don’t get stuck on finding a job. Or starting a business for that matter. There are lots of opportunities in between that can enable you to turn your passion into your work. Sure, you can get a job doing X, but what about a project, a consulting opportunity, an internship, licensing a business, becoming a franchisee, partnering up with an organization, doing some temp work. Break away from the “get a job” mentality. There are lots of ways to make money doing just about anything …if you’re creative enough.

13. Start creating a (small) platform you can use to help yourself. This is a means to promote your eventual business, service or products. It might be a Facebook or Twitter account, a blog, a LinkedIn profile, or a stack of pamphlets for a letterbox drop. If you start work on this now, you’ll have less work to do when it’s time to start searching for clients, or a job, or a market for your products.

14. Talk to some people who are doing the job that you would like to do. There's often a big difference between the career you fantasize about and the day-to-day reality of turning a passion into a full-time job. For many individuals, it's worth sorting through the mundane details in order to do what you love, but make sure you don't take the plunge with stars in your eyes. Few careers are as fun in practice as they seem to an outsider, and getting a clear picture of your potential “new career” can help ensure that you don't end up disappointed.

15. What makes you different makes you special. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in your area of passion. You don’t need to have years of experience under your belt to do something with it either. That can come. Take whatever it is that makes you different, unique, special, interesting, quirky or uncommon and turn that into a fascinating story of why you’re pursuing a particular passion.

If you’re not sure how to turn your passion into a job, research what others have done before. What kind of jobs exist around your passion? What kind of products? Good luck!

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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