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This Is Why Living in a Tiny House Is Agonizing for an Autistic Couple

by Kirsty Kendall 6 months ago in humanity · updated 3 months ago
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Housing politics marginalize autistic adults

This Is Why Living in a Tiny House Is Agonizing for an Autistic Couple
Photo by Karl JK Hedin on Unsplash

Small is beautiful. That also applies to tiny houses. I love watching videos about tiny houses. They’re so cute and compact!

Tiny houses are like dollhouses; fun to look at, but you wouldn’t want to live in one.

For my husband and me, living in a tiny house would be a disaster.

My Husband and I Are an Autistic Couple, and We Need Some Space

My husband and I live in a two-bedroom apartment. Our apartment has around 60 square meters (646 square feet). Even our current apartment feels small for us sometimes.

We sleep in the living room because we both need our own rooms. We need two bedrooms for that. Ideally, we would live in a three-bedroom apartment. That way, we would have a bedroom. Now our bedroom and living room are combined.

I need to have my own room with a door I can close. I need alone time. I also work from home. Because of my ADD, I get distracted easily. I need my own room so I can focus. Even with the door of my room closed, I can hear everything if I don’t wear noise-canceling headphones and listen to music.

An average tiny house is only 186 square feet large. If we had to live in a 186 square feet apartment, it would be a disaster.

You can only fit one room into 186 square feet. If my husband I wouldn’t have separate rooms we can retreat into, we would get on each other’s nerves. We would become stressed, and that would hurt our relationship.

According to the tiny house movement, tiny houses are for everyone, including autistic people.

There’s even a Facebook page called “Autistic Tiny Homes”. Based on the name, you might think there’s a whole community of autistic people living in tiny homes. But they don’t mention any other autistic person living in a tiny house except for 19-year-old Sarah from Utah. Her tiny house has a very cute, pink home decor.

I also lived in a 215-square-feet apartment in my 20s. But I lived alone, and I only lived there for a year.

For most autistic couples or families, moving to a tiny house or a micro-apartment would be a horrible idea.

The Housing Crisis and the Rise of Micro-Apartments

You might say nobody is forcing autistic people into small apartments. The reality is different.

Housing prices are rising rapidly around the world. Few people can afford to buy a house anymore. Rent prices are soaring as well.

What do people do when apartments are too expensive? They move into a smaller one. Real estate companies are trying to solve the housing crisis by building micro-apartments.

Micro-apartments or tiny houses work for very few people. If you work from home or spend a lot of time at home, a tiny house can feel claustrophobic. An apartment needs to be a place where you can relax. It’s not easy to relax when you live in a closet.

By TOH - Tiny Overland House on Unsplash

Housing Politics Marginalize Autistic Adults

Housing politics force people to live in smaller apartments than they’re comfortable in. For example, here in Finland, there is a limit for how expensive your rent can be so that you’re entitled to a housing allowance. The maximum allowed rent is calculated based on which part of the country you live in and how many people live in the household.

Small apartments have cheaper rent than big ones. So, if you’re poor, you may be forced to move into a smaller apartment. Otherwise, you won’t get enough social security benefits to be able to pay your rent.

You’re allowed to have a bigger apartment if there is a disabled person in the household. Of course, a disabled person, in this case, means someone who needs a wheelchair or is otherwise physically challenged.

An autistic person is not entitled to extra space due to a disability. Only 22% of autistic adults in the UK are employed. Here in Finland, the number may be even lower.

So, there is a high number of unemployed autistic people. Unemployment means poverty, so a majority of autistic adults need social security benefits. The social security system in Finland forces poor people to live in small apartments. That applies to autistic adults as well.

I’m not saying the government should force anyone to live in a tiny apartment, regardless of a person’s disability status. But being forced to share a cramped apartment can have a more negative impact on an autistic person’s mental health.

The physically challenged are not the only disabled people who need extra space. Autistic people need space to maintain their mental health. For many autistic people, our home is the only haven in a world that was not made for us. But living in a closet-sized home doesn’t feel like a haven, especially if it causes problems in your relationship.

We need more apartments that people can afford. But not tiny houses or micro-apartments. Build real apartments.

Forcing anybody to live in crowded spaces because they’re poor is, once again, a manifestation of de-humanizing poor people.

These kinds of housing politics hurt especially autistic adults. Because of our disability, we need more space to live comfortably with a partner. Like all adults, we should have the right to live with a spouse. But our needs are invisible to an outsider.

You might also like:

This Is Why the Konmari Method Didn’t Work for My Neurodivergent Brain

My Autistic Love Story

This Is Why the Habit of Neurotypical Couples Hanging Out with Other Couples Is So Weird


About the author

Kirsty Kendall

MA in literature. Writer, unicorn lover, snail mom. I write about autism, business, life… Buy me a coffee:

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