Support for all members of special needs families

Transition Check-In: On Chickens and the Counting of Them

Sometimes waiting to count your chickens after they hatch isn’t going to help. Because if they aren’t doing well after they hatch, what do you do then?


The good news is that after seven weeks of Nigel living in a supported living home, I am still confident that he is receiving the best professional care possible, that he is well taken care of. The bad news is that he has a housemate, another client, who drives him insane. This guy, who is not on the autism spectrum, is very talkative and constantly tries to engage Nigel. Explaining that “Nigel needs a lot of time to himself” works for about five minutes until the other guy forgets and comes over to talk to Nigel again. The house managers have tried to help by giving the guy incentives and reminders, and they’ve also incorporated coping strategies for Nigel such as having him wear over-the-ear hearing protection as a signal that he does not want to be disturbed. But it has only resulted in engendering animosity, and things are escalating.

It’s gotten to a point where Nigel is constantly on edge, reminded of when he was in middle school and being bullied, even though this time there is no malicious intent. It doesn’t really matter. He feels badgered, even though the other guy, who is angry and feels rejected, can’t help it. The fact that Nigel can’t make the badgering stop throws him right back to the agitated state he experienced in his early teens. And he’s regressing behaviorally and socially. I have seen him overnight at least every other weekend since he moved, and I can see the difference. He’s rapidly losing ground.

Part of me wants to hold off from swooping in and rescuing him. This was something he wanted to do (“I can’t wait to be out from under your rule” was a common refrain last year), and it’s important for him to learn what he can from the experience. We’ve all had to learn to coexist with people who irritate us – coworkers, roommates, even family members – it’s a fact of life, and a social skill. If he were being bullied, I would instantly make changes. But he’s not. He’s uncomfortable, but he’s okay.

And so I’ve come up with what I hope will be a positive (and swift) solution. We’re looking into alternatives where we can move him. I’m certainly not excited about the process of this, having already gone through it for most of the past ten months. Lots of phone calls, emails, and appointments. Lots of driving over 50 miles to pick up Nigel, drive to where the agency offices are (he’s in a rural area), and then either have him spend the night and/or drive him back to his place, another 50+ mile round trip. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

I’m sure Nigel is thinking the same thing.


When it comes to chickens, I’ve learned to just not count them at all. Not at any point. Life is eternally wait-and-see, demanding patience and detachment, but, fortunately, buoyed by hope.

16 thoughts on “Transition Check-In: On Chickens and the Counting of Them”

  • Oh Tanya, I’m so sorry. I know this must be so overwhelming and I send you love and confidence in your ability to navigate, even as I wish you and Nigel didn’t have to.


    : (

  • Oh my! It sounds like his housemate could be one of my sons! I know what it’s like to just want some peace and quiet. Things will work out…just a little extra time and lots of extra effort. Hugs my friend…

  • Hi Tanya , Sorry it is not working, Curious about process to get him into supported housing, Almost wish I could do something like that but at this point I do not know if anything will work for me, I just need to find a way to accept somehow! My God, if I could just accept all the things in my life I don’t like I could stop with all the anxiety and panic. It has been with me so long I don’t know know what it would be like without it.

    I wish you and Nigel the best of luck and I love your quote at the end
    “When it comes to chickens, I’ve learned to just not count them at all. Not at any point. Life is eternally wait-and-see, demanding patience and detachment, but, fortunately, buoyed by hope.”

    I pray I can remember those words, I need them so badly. I need to live your words.

    I need to learn to live with irritants and not have them be so overwhelming.

    Best to you

  • Damn it.

    I’m sorry.

    You’ll find the right place. But I wish it weren’t so hard on you both in the meantime.


  • I love that last paragraph. You’re so right. We’re called to be like water, getting low and flowing wherever, and however we’re called to flow.

  • yikes, this sounds very frustrating. fingers crossed for you both, hoping that either his current house can find a solution or that something else pops up that will make this transition a little easier. thx for the update, i’ve been thinking about you guys

  • Oh what a bummer!!
    Maybe the other guy wants to move?!
    All the best, Px

  • Sending all my love and energy to you both. The right solution will present itself and hopefully a smooth transition. xoxo

  • Oh, Tanya, I’m so sorry. Sending you positive thoughts for a good solution SOON–and as smooth a transition as can be!

  • Oh, and I, too, love the note about the chickens. I wish I could just learn it for real.

  • Damn. I’m so sorry that you two are having to go through this again. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will be resolved soon and that YOU won’t lose any more ground!

  • It’s a tough and unfortunate situation, but I think you’re doing the right thing. You’re staying on top of things and monitoring as best you can. It sucks that it’s going to take time and effort to change things, I just hope the change, when it does come, will be positive for everyone. Best of luck!

  • Oh no, so sorry to hear that Tanya. Can’t believe it’s been 7 weeks. Sounds like there are some positives though and although moving again would be such a pain (and – sorry to be abrupt – no guarantee that a similar situation won’t arise) at least you know the concept of the assisted living programme itself is working for Nigel? You’re right, it is life and something everyone comes up with when working/living with others. But very difficult for Nigel to cope with, I feel for him. And you!

    I had the same problem with my son when he was very young and was in special school….but he got to come home every day.

    I also had the same problem (but more aggressive) with my mam in her nursing home. There was no chance of moving her so the home did their best to keep them separated. Not always easy!

    I do hope you find the solution for Nigel soon 🙂

    xx Jazzy

  • Everyone, I appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and love so much. We are blessed to have you in our lives.

  • Someone should somehow create a roommate matching service for young adults with autism so they can end up with people who won’t drive them crazy and who they won’t drive crazy either. Maybe someday when I’m rich…

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