Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finances and Independent Living Skills

My second daughter has Aspergers. She understands more than the first daughter who has full fledged Autism. Unfortunately because she understands alot she can get into more trouble. It is a mixture of good and bad.

I want her to be able to do as much as she wants to do. Even with Aspergers, I want her to be able to handle all of her business. It is definitely easier on me. That said, I can see how her difficulty understanding social cues is making things difficult for her.

Case in point, she decided she wanted to get her check in her own name. She got one of the people she lives with to give her a ride to do it. Two months later she is calling me crying because SSI took the amount of her rent and utilities OFF of her check.

I spent some time telling her that she must have said something wrong in the interview. Of course she got mad and hung up on me several times. Why would I know what I was talking about? Finances are probably one of the hardest Independent Living Skills to teach any child, let alone one with Aspergers.

Now that might be some typical teenage behavior. She is the fourth of five children and she is 18 so I have seen typical teenage/young adult behavior before. Conversely the two oldest boys knew when they needed help.

Once she calmed down we had several on and off discussions about money and SSI. Aspergers is one of the reasons she gets SSI. It just worries me that everything I have put together for her will unravel.

After all if she could do everything she would not need SSI. What do you think? Does your child get SSI?


  1. Perhaps it would have been more advantageous to suggest that something, somewhere in the process went wrong. I'm not sure why you would automatically assume your daughter did something wrong. There was another human being on the other end of that process that could have made a mistake as well. I can see why she would be angry with the automatic assumption that her Asperger's somehow equalled incompetence. Offering to help her figure out what wires were crossed in the process may have been a better way to advocate for her.

  2. Thank you for posting. It's my experience with the people at SSI that unless you are very clear with them something can go wrong. They certainly have the ability to confuse things.

    Incompetence? Not even remotely. Not this child. Challenges yes. Difficulties getting her to ask for and accept help before there is a problem? Yes. My assumptions about my daughter are from experience. That said she asked for help after it happened and figured it out which was the important part.

    In case you're wondering, I am very proud of her. She keeps working at a situation until she figures it out. I just wished it happened before.

  3. I was on disability for a while, and I am still dealing (or rather not dealing) with a problem that resulted. I kept receiving checks long after they were supposed to have stopped, so my solution was to just not deposit them. I didn't call Social Security to tell them about the problem because A) I assumed that each check was the last one and that they would realize their mistake, or that I was wrong about the end date in the first place; and B) if I wasn't depositing them, then that was the same as not getting them.

    Boy was I wrong. I got a letter much later saying that I owed thousands of dollars in repayment. I did call at that point, figuring I just needed to explain the situation and all would be well. Wrong again. They told me I had to send the checks back, but I didn't even know where they were. I haven't seen them in years. So now I'm repaying money I never even received, and I have no idea what to do about it. This is one of those times when I really wish I had a caseworker who knew the system.

    I'm only telling you this to offer another example about the problems a "high-functioning" individual might end up facing due to not understanding something. People on the spectrum just don't think about things the same way other people do, and that can lead to a lot of problems as we get older and more independent. I'm not sure how well she does with everything else, but if you worry about her encountering problems like this, it would be good to talk with her ahead of time. She might resent it, but if you can do it sensitively (which I'm sure you can, from reading your blog), and in a way that makes it clear that you are not telling her she is incompetent (which again, I'm sure you can), it might go pretty well. Just let her know that you're always available if she has any questions about how something works, or if she wants to run an idea by you, and that needing to ask for help or advice doesn't mean she's incapable; it just means she wants to make the best decisions she can make.

    And of course, yes, it could have easily been the mistake of the SSI worker as well. But like you said, you know from experience the kinds of things your daughter has difficulty with.

  4. Thanks for coming back. I had missed it. Not to whine too much but when I feel bad I miss things. :)

    I am trying some of what you're talking about. Some days it works and some days it doesn't. BUT she is learning. Slowly, but she is learning to anticipate some of these problesm.