Autistic & Homeless: What’s Going On?

Featured image shows a dark metal spiral keychain on a red and white checked tablecloth. Image © Fox Tears (me).

Hi again! I’m blogging again. I don’t really know what to talk about; there’s just so much of it! I’ll be answering questions from readers. You can email me, poke me on twitter, or leave a question in the comments.

Today’s first question is from John Henry (@24shaz):

is anyone helping you? Have services sprung into action? Who is there to meet your needs?

My wonderful friends are helping as much as they can. I live with Dragon and Pangolin for 3 nights every two weeks, and Pangolin has a car so I don’t always have to walk from the camp site to the city. Lemur (one of my partners) offers me a bed and some food when he’s around, but he takes a lot of holidays so it’s not really regular or predictable. Otter (my other partner and the one I used to live with) sends money when he can.

A lady stopped me the other day as I was buying firewood and took my details, saying she would consider letting a room to me, though I don’t know if I could afford it.

Then there are the lovely strangers:

The laundrette attendant who bought my greeting cards for much more than I asked for them, and handed me a bunch of fast food discount vouchers.

The kids who bought a card for their mum and told me to keep the change.

The lady who brought me a can of drink and a sandwich at the end of the day selling cards in the street.

Yeah, people are helping me, in the little ways that keep me fed and less lonely.

Have services sprung into action? no. If you want to access charity services here, you have to go and find them. With limited energy because of my recently diagnosed Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, I haven’t yet managed to even see the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. As for government help, no chance at all. Because I gave notice rather than getting into rent arrears and being evicted, I count as “voluntarily homeless” and do not qualify for priority social housing. I could apply for disability benefits, but the testing process for eligibility here has declared terminally ill people as “fit for work”. One can appeal (and over 50% of appeals succeed) but again, spoons. The system is designed so that disabled people die before they receive their benefits.

As for people meeting my needs, I’m having to cope on my own in terms of bathing, cooking, organising my time and remembering to do things. Everything I’ve got right now is going into survival, physiotherapy and trying to make a few quid with activities that don’t steal spoons too much.

Next question is from TheAutisticZebra (@AutisticZebra):

what can I, as an empathetic person of not much means, do to help homeless? Esp as bad w/social interactions. Feel awkward.

This one’s tricky. There are so many different paths to homelessness, which means there are so many different needs. What would help me might not help someone with a different set of problems. 

I’m going to answer from my experience:

  • Cash is OK, even ideal, so I can pay for camping space, firewood etc. I don’t have any substance problems (unless you count cake), so cash isn’t a waste or a risk.
  • Vouchers for cheaper food are really helpful, especially fast food. Ones that require bulk purchases less so, as I have to carry or tow everything, so bulky items become a hindrance.
  • A smile and a “hi” goes a long way. Sitting in the street begging or selling with folks pretending you aren’t there is really demoralizing. Just acknowledging I exist makes me feel better.
  • If you can, ask what I need. I’ll usually have a mental “shopping list” and be able to tell you what I need. It’s likely to be something simple, like a box of washing tablets or a bag of rice (I plan to start displaying a wishlist of stuff where I stop to sell pictures, to make this easier on shy folks).

What I need most is spoons (metaphorical Spoon Theory ones). I wish there was an easy way to donate those, but I haven’t hit on a way yet.

Last question of the day is from Heydon (@heydonworks):

What’s your favourite part about being neurodivergent?

The sensory processing differences, definitely. I can lose myself in the uniqueness of an object, like the memory of the fire in a piece of wrought iron, or the pattern of wear on an old walking stick. Lots of things have a soul to them, and together they interact in a way that is how I imagine recreational drugs feel. I get my highs in little new age shops and car boot sales. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

 

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