Change that leads to better lives

Getting on with living

Tom share’s his thoughts on what an included life looks like for him as a young autistic person living in Dorset.

Toms Blog 01

I live in Dorset with my friends in a shared house. I’ve lived on my own since I was 19 because I like having my own space and my parent’s house is too noisy and messy. I used to live in a flat that I rented and paid for myself with my PiP and my job. I wasn’t always confident enough to be that independent, but I have always been determined to keep pushing myself to be better.

I liked my own place, but I found the silence made me anxious, I missed the security of hearing people I trusted in the background. I’m 22 now and living with some friends; it feels like a more natural thing to do. I was nervous about moving in with people who weren’t my family, even if they were friends, just in case I started to find them annoying and it would be difficult to tell them, or for them to tell me. I’ve got better at adjusting to how people expect me to behave. My family were supportive of the idea (probably because I make a lot of noise whilst I’m gaming late at night) and at first they still supported me with paperwork and organising my bills and washing and cooking.

Eventually they helped me get a PA to help with that. I always thought a PA was something you had in an office, so to have one for myself was a bit weird. At first, I couldn’t find somebody that I liked enough to accept their support. But all of us in the house like it now, it’s like having a grown up friend that reminds you of the stuff you need to do, but aren’t as annoying as a parent. We cook together and shop together and they help me when I get overwhelmed with stuff. We also go for long walks together to help keep me motivated on staying healthy. It’s important that I like them, that they feel like a friend, somebody I can be myself with instead of being careful about how I act or speak.

I currently work in a job that is very supportive of how I communicate and work with others. My last job was really boring, working in a factory, but I only wanted the job to save money, and because it felt like a good way of not seeing too many people or having to talk to them like I have in other jobs I’ve worked. I learnt that the hard way, but I think most people do.

I left school after dropping out of my A levels. I couldn’t stay focused, and I found going into college too busy with so many people. It was overwhelming and I just wanted to start earning some money. I tried an apprenticeship, but they weren’t very supportive, so I just decided to start applying for jobs that weren’t about getting a career, but were about getting on with living. I’m still doing that.

I’m still thinking about my career. I might do an online course as I know I can do well with my studies if I can focus, but I don’t like to focus on things that I don’t enjoy. That’s what made school difficult, so much pressure to know what career path you want to take. As an adult its more accepted that we have choice and time to work it out. I can try out different things in person. Its really hard for me to imagine what job I might want without trying it out first-hand and that was hard because we didn’t have any work experience until we were in the middle of our A levels. That felt too late.

I’ve always been open with employers about being autistic, but only if I have an interview, not at the application stage. I find that I’m more comfortable talking to employers about it in person and what it means for support that I might need.

At the moment I’m just working to keep on saving. I’m saving up for my own house. I guess I live an included life because I’m doing a lot of the same things some of my other friends are (apart from going to uni, but I was worried about how much that cost and I didn’t want to be in debt).

I do worry about being behind my friends in getting to achieve goals in life. I want what everybody else wants, a job, a house, a relationship, to learn to drive I suppose, but that might take me a really long time as I have a lot of anxieties about transport. Right now, being included just means wanting to be with my friends and have fun doing the things that matter to me. I don’t think that’s different for anybody my age – and that’s the point really – we all just want the opportunity to live our lives.

News Sign-up

Useful Info

If you would like to share your story as part of our #livesincluded series please contact

Subscribe to NDTi News

Thank you for taking the time to subscribe.