Autism and Money Part 1 – Possible Problems

moneyMoney is crucial in everybody`s life.  Some people place a higher value on it than others, but the reality of life is that everybody needs money.  The basic essentials of life cannot be obtained without it.  And if somebody wants to create a decent life for themselves, or their family they need a certain amount of money to do this.  But what about people with autism who may struggle with decision making and organisation?  How do they deal with the responsibility of making, and spending money, applying for benefits, and budgeting? To suggest that nobody with autism is capable of managing their own money would be ridiculous, and this article just looks at some problems that may arise for certain individuals.

If a person with autism leaves home, or finds themselves in control of their own income one of the things they may find hardest is the organising paying of bills and rent.  The first reason is simply being able to see what they need to do, and organising their time to be able to do it.  The second problem in the social interaction that may come with having to organise things like rent and bills; talking to people on the phone or in person.  Not only can this put people off, and make the concept of managing their own money very intimidating, but it can mean that they get so stressed when they are doing it, that they end up making mistakes that cost them in the long-run.

Another unfortunate problem is that people with autism are often very trusting, and easily manipulated.  Sometimes they can be easy targets for people who pretend to be their friend, and end up exploiting them for money.  If somebody else is in control of the autistic person`s finances it would be harder for an unscrupulous person to get at their money, but if they have direct access to their money at some point somebody may try to exploit them.  As far as possible individuals with autism should have charge of their own money, but sometimes this just isn’t possible.

One other problem – which may not be as common, but still takes place – is that some autistic people simply don’t understand the value of money, or how to look after it.   They may end up spending money that they need for rent or food on things that are unimportant – or maybe just important to them.  And there have been cases where people have believed that they didn’t need to pay certain bills because they had taken some wording on a bill, or letter literally.  The fact that some people with autism don’t always think much of material wealth is admirable, but it can lead to problems when they don’t understand the concept of having dead-lines to pay bills, or believing that if they think a bill is unfair they can simply refuse to pay it.  They may struggle with the fact that just because money doesn’t matter to them, this doesn’t mean it won’t matter to those around them.

This isn’t meant to imply that people with autism can never be left in charge of their own finances; some people with autism have a natural grasp for things like this, and others only an average grasp, but they still manage to get through life without major problems.  The above are examples of problems that can occur, and have occurred in certain cases. It will be different for each person on the autism spectrum, but for some obtaining, and managing money can be problematic.

The next article in this series will look at tips, and techniques to deal with some of these problems.