The best place to live is strongly individually determined
For an individual the best location for a home may vary from extremely hectic to extremely quiet
specific individual sensory, social or any other limitations or peculiarities related to autism
In order to
optimally take into account any autism-related personal limitation or peculiarity.
When deciding the best location for the home of a single individual on the spectrum, there are no room mates, family members or fellow students whose needs and demands have to be taken into account. So, apart from some practical considerations the choice of residence can be completely determined by individual limitations and peculiarities, be it in the social, sensory or any other domain of autism.
Because it is impossible to do credit to the great variety of individual considerations with respect to place of living, this section offers a few examples which illustrate the wide variety of choices available.
Hedwich is a young woman who made a true odyssey in finding the proper independent home. She lived for eight years on a farm where working and living with sheep, ‘pulled her’ – she says – ‘out of her heavy autism’.
Subsequently, she developed a need for more spare time and used a shed on an estate as a retreat. The quiet suited her well, but she developed a desperate aversion to a rooster which woke her with its crowing at two in the morning.
Subsequently, she lived for a year in a small makeshift home in a forest, until this had to be demolished by orders of the township. Currently, she lives in a corner-apartment in a relatively quiet area of the city of Utrecht. She relates:
“It’s very noisy here: cars in the street, blowers (clearing leaves in autumn), birds in an outside aviary, the lot… I hear everything my neighbors do: conversations, flushing toilets, opening and closing of doors, their walking up and down, their telephones, whether they have visitors, the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, the kitchen extraction. I hear everything and I find it unbearable.”
“I have a great urge to be alone, to experience quiet and to be able to have order in my thoughts. When I hear the neighbors I am totally occupied with them. I have great difficulty switching between what goes on within and around me. It’s very tiring too. I’m unable to close myself off from the sound of the neighbors. I experience them as if they live in my place. Because of all these sounds I’m continuously aware of what they do, vacuum, having telephone conversations, sometimes I hear what they say word for word.”
An architect with much experience in this field relates the story of a man with under-responsivity:
An adult man insisted living in an apartment situated at a busy traffic circle. This gave him the sense there was always something happening, always something to see. It was his deepest wish, bordering on an obsession. The realization of this wish caused him to be much less frustrated. Before he lived there he regularly destroyed his own furniture.”
“Another adult man lived in the country-side with just a few houses around his and yet he found this too busy and too noisy. He could hear the boiler of the neighbors, the beep of the computer. He himself did not have any electrical appliances, and the technical installations he had put in a shed. Because of this extreme bother by noise he couldn’t work. He has not found a solution to this day.”
A staff-member of the Kannerhuis recounts the experience of a young man who is a great naturalist and nature lover. He saved his money to be able to move to Latin-America. There, in the Amazon forest, he wanted to build a giant bird nest, so he could live between the birds. His dream was never realized.
These examples illustrate how the need for extreme quiet and aloneness can be so great that it can only be fulfilled in exceptional cases and then often only partly. People with under-responsivity for noise can find a home more easily on their own than together with others.