Financial Independence, Autism and Employment

There are a lot of things about autism that impact my daily life. I’m extremely sensitive to sensory things: changes in weather/pressure, smells, sounds, heat/humidity and even magnetic fields. But the two things that have impacted me the most are my social and executive functioning.

As I’ve gotten older, it’s been increasingly more difficult to juggle life’s demands. Just the ones from work can be enough by themselves, but throw in keeping the house clean, feeding my family and caring for our pets can really overload me.

Well, I got laid off from my job back in October, and while it has been a nice little respite, I’ve had to start up the ol’ job search for the 8th time in the last 5 years. I’ve managed to build up quite the tech career for myself in a short span of 8-9 years, but it’s built on very shaky ground. I started working at 21 and I’ve been considering leaving tech ever since. The only reason I stayed this far is because I’ve been able to save a considerable amount of my salary. This has been a godsend for the various periods in my life where I ended up unemployed due to my autism.

Just for a little context, the unemployment rate for autistic folks is really high. Like as high as 70-75%. I didn’t get a diagnosis until I was in my mid 20s, but I suspected something was up in high school, which is also when I became obsessed with the idea of financial independence.

Facing yet another terrifying job search process (the social aspects are the absolute worst for me, especially when I prepare for things they never ask, and ask for things I’m totally unprepared for), I’m considering starting my own business of creating websites for other entrepreneurs. I think a lot of times we think about financial independence as a destination. But I’m in a position where I have enough savings to float me while I either start my business or find another job. The only debt we have is our mortgage. In many ways, I’m already “financially independent” in the sense that I have some negotiating power to find or build something that is simpatico with my disability.

So here are my questions to you:

What was your motivating force to pursue FI – what is the story for your WHY?

If we stop thinking of FI as a goal, but as a way of empowering ourselves with flexibility, what else besides money do you need to make that happen?