As my son follows me around the kitchen, immediately fixing items that I move out of place, and as he monitors and resets all of our other shared spaces after we use them, I daydream about the new house we are planning. I am hoping this move, which will give our son more space and more control over that space, will calm his nerves. And mine.
My son’s new “apartment,” which will be connected to our house, will be a pretty sweet set-up. In a lot of ways, I’ve thought more about his house than ours, so it’s possible my husband and I will be living in a cardboard box next to our son’s home, I don’t know.
He’ll have essentially a two-bedroom apartment, including a master bedroom/bath, a study/game room (which can double as a 2nd bedroom), and a small living room and eat-in kitchen.
His suite will have a full kitchen, with an oven/stove, even though he’s not cooking independently yet, or even close. We thought about just putting in a microwave and maybe toaster oven, but we don’t want to short-change “future him” based on his abilities right now. We’ll get a stovetop with a lock-out mechanism so the burners can’t be turned on accidentally (or purposefully without supervision). We haven’t found any ovens that have the same feature, but we’re planning to install a switch to keep the oven turned off until it is needed.
We could, of course, leave space to add a stove later but 1) my boy does not dig change and 2) having a stove will give me (or a provider) a place to prepare his meals, and teach him how to safely cook for himself. A place that is not my kitchen. He can develop his own routines in his own kitchen and (maybe) leave mine alone.
The second bedroom seems like more space than he needs, but that’s in some ways a selfish addition, too. It felt like a good option, so that if he has a provider that comes to stay with him, they can actually stay in his house, instead of in ours.
There is an inside door between our house and his, with a shared laundry room off the hallway in between. Especially at first, that door will likely always be open and he’ll be hanging out in our living room too. He just has a larger area to escape to (and fix the way he likes it), besides just his bedroom.
He’ll have his own front door, too—another addition that won’t be used much initially, but again, just trying to think ahead to what might make sense for the future.
Outside of his front door, there’s a patio with a half-wall around it and a gate, accessible from the walkway that leads to our front door. We’re creating this outdoor space because he won’t have direct access to the backyard from his suite, due to the shape of our lot and how our plan fits on it. Our son will certainly be using our backyard, but I still wanted him to have access to the outside without having to go through our house.
It feels a little strange because we’re only allowed to put up a half-wall, not a full fence. But we’ll be putting chimes on the doors so I’ll know if he goes outside, and installing cameras inside and out. We are lucky that he is not one to wander or escape. If he was, we’d have to have a different plan.
We bought a corner lot tucked back into a neighborhood that is isolated from traffic. Even though it’s just off the main drag of town, there’s only one way in and out of the block, so once you’re on our street, it’s pretty quiet and safe.
Well…quiet until my kid moves in! If he does like to hang out on his front patio, our new neighbors will learn pretty quickly what “stimming” is, that’s for sure.
So I guess in a way, we’ll be helping him grow toward independence while teaching some autism awareness in our community at the same time! 😉