Autism and the Concept of Home

“Home” conjures a montage of imagery: “We’re home, home, home on the range.” “Go big or go home.” “Honey, I’m home!” “Go home, Alexander!”


It’s interesting how much home’s connotation depends on freedom. When home is a place to which a person looks forward to going, it can be a welcome escape from pressure to mask their true identities and needs in any way. Similarly, when home is an escape from the pressure to mask one’s true self in any way, it can certainly be a lot easier to look forward to going home! Unfortunately, many neurodivergent people have to make the choice between needed supports and living freely within a physical space they can call home. This choice exists in both family and community settings. Many others lack access to even a regular physical shelter that may constitute “home,” regardless of the freedoms offered.


Home should, first and foremost, be a solace from whatever a person needs solace from. But that’s not an option for everyone. Domestic responsibilities in and of themselves can be the opposite of needed solace. However, as neurodivergent people are well aware, lack of access does not constitute lack of need. In cases like these, it seems the best path may to find solace within a small part of the place one spends the majority of their time, or outside of it entirely. Social exhaustion and excess burden on executive functioning can make that’s difficult, though. To join a club is to add one more thing to an already stressful schedule and to borrow spoons you know you can’t spare to socialize with people. The internet can be a helpful way to engage interests in a variety of locations in very specific ways. Designating a portion of a closet or another area in the home as one’s “own space” can also be helpful.


Regardless of specifics, finding a “home” where one is safe to be themselves – to be neurodivergent – is so important for quality of life. It’s worth doing, and it’s worth supporting people in doing.