Skip to NavigationSkip to content

Father (ex-husband) in denial

20 replies [Go to latest post]

Hi Everyone,

I suspected for many years that my son was on the spectrum, my now ex-husband always told me i was wrong and that he 'was just a boy'

5 years ago my son was referred to a community paediatrician because he was showing extreme low self esteem and had told me he wanted to kill himself, he was 6 years old. i was told that although my son showed signs of autism and ADHD he didn't fulfill the criteria and therefore had neither, as such i was not offered any additional support and refused a referal to CAMHS as they thought he was unsuitable,  my ex found this highly amusing at the time.

That was the first i had heard of autism, so i started to research, the more i researched the more i believed in my own mind that my son was on the spectrum, but because i had been told by the paediatrician he was not i just adopted the coping strategies and soldiered on, my then husband refused to work with me and eventually we separated because things were difficult enough, i just couldn't stand him working against me all the time.

Last year things came to a head with my son, now 11, school was bad, his behaviour was difficult and my strategies no longer seemed to be working, so i went back to my GP and asked for my son to be specifically assessed for ASD, I saw the same paediatrician, who had oviously read her previous notes, so I didn't think i would get anywhere, however i think she was shocked by how my son presented and said his problems were 'very complex', the school appointed an education pschologist on her recommendation, my CAMHS referral came through fairly quickly, and straight away the psychiatrist could see traits in my son, within one hour because to me and her it was obvious she confirmed that he was on the spectrum.

When i told my ex that his son had ASD he laughed and said 'whatever', 'i suppose you were with him', 'what medication are they giving him' as if he doesn't believe or want to believe me, has anyone else had a similar reaction, how did you deal with it?




If I were you, I think I would tell your son, if you haven't already, the diagnosis and provide him with information such that he is able to make up his own mind about whether he is on the spectrum or not.

If he's fairly high-functioning and has free access to the internet, particularly YouTube (and without you watching over his shoulder all the time), then simply telling him of the diagnosis may well be enough and he'll seek more information for himself.

(and there is a lot of very good information, particularly people with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's talking about what it is like for them, on YouTube)

If your son 'owns' the diagnosis, it won't matter what his father thinks or says.

Hi Buttons Mum,

I'm sorry you've had such a hard time.  From all that I have read in these forums you're one of many.

I have to start with a caveat - although I work with young people with ASDs, I don't have such a child myself.  I did, however, have a little girl who was born with the most profound disabilities and who died in her fifth year, now a long time ago, so there is a sense in which I understand what it is to be the parent of a 'handicapped' or 'special' child.  Either definition works for me.

During my daughter's lifetime, during which I was her principal carer, I was brought into contact with a great many people, most of them parents of children with problems but some of them with much less severe problems than my daughter.

It was very noticeable that it was often the dads who coped with it the least well.  Not that there aren't a great many dads who cope brilliantly.  Marriages were often put under tremendous strain and a good number of them did not survive their child's disability.

A rather scary commonplace was that dads seemed to have the idea that a disabled child reflected badly on their manhood, and that being seen to be the father of such a child damaged their esteem in the eyes of the world.  As a man, I'd say that such preoccupations are tragically common among men, even in these supposedly enlightened times.

<< When i told my ex that his son had ASD he laughed and said 'whatever', 'i suppose you were with him', 'what medication are they giving him' as if he doesn't believe or want to believe me,>>

This sounds as if he is trying to imply that your son's problems are 'in your eyes only', that this is something you have invented.  It is insulting to you, if one is honest, and offensive.  From such words, and given what I wrote in the preceeding paragraph, I would suggest that he doesn't want to believe you, and I would also suspect that the fact that he is your ex may have to do with jealousy, on his part, for the attention circumstances have forced you to direct towards your son rather than towards him.  Does any of that make sense?

You are the one with the courage and strength here.  Those of us who know what we know respect you for that.

Warmest best wishes to you,

father in denial

My husband took a long time to accept our daughters diagnosis and used to laugh at me for thinking she had a problem. She has a lot of traits similar to my mother and this was where the blame was often laid. He would get cross with our daughter for not acting as he thought she should and he often ended up shouting at her and alienating himself. I was 'piggy in the middle' between them frequently and our marriage was rocky as things got worse. After she was seen by a psychiatrist and got diagnosed I felt I was better equipped to explain to him how badly he was treating her. The information on this website has been invaluable and if you can persuade your ex to just take a look maybe he will realise that a lot of what he reads is describing his son. Looking on you tube is great as well for personal experiences. What finally helped was a book called Aspergirls by Rudy Simone which he is currently reading, it's like a light has switched on and he is now much more understanding. I'm sure there are similar books from boys points of view. I hope this helps and wish you luck . Your son is lucky to have such a loving and determined mum.

My parents divorced when I was 10, my dad 'met' someone shortly after and I was then subjected to the woman who would become my step mother. I wasn't diagnosed until a few months before my 18th birthday with Aspergers Syndrome.

Before the divorce? I was a daddys girl and a major tomboy, I hated anything remotely girly, baby dolls? My eldest cousin had more fun playing with them while I played with dinosaurs and plastic dragons. I wouldn't wear dresses or skirts (still won't) and I still live mostly in boys/mens clothes.

But after he met my step mother, he started having 'expectations'. Suddenly, it was inappropriate for me to live in sports clothes unless I did sport, and I had to wear jeans with pink things. No hoodies, no black t-shirts with dragons on, any drawings that weren't of pretty sunsets were banned from being shown in their new house....

The sad thing is, when the psychologist who diagnosed me asked what the best thing my father had ever done for me, I replied 'a diagnosis', because my cousins on his side of the family have been diagnosed as autistic.

But to date? He treats me as though if he completely ignores everything he doesn't approve of, I'll suddenly change. I'm afraid some people just won't admit it

What I wish I had done was write a letter, telling my dad how every time since my diagnosis that I've tried to spend time with him, that every time hes treated me like a 'normal' person, I felt so alone, all this time he made me doubt myself, second guess my achievements...

Your ex may deny your son has autism, but please make it clear to him, you didn't get your son diagnosed to prove he's 'wrong'. You did it because the way he was being raised was hurting him emotionally and mentally. Your ex has to realise that diagnosis or not, he needs to take responsibility and be there to try and help your son, and that trying to undermine you will only hurt your boy further.

Good luck.

hi buttons mum, as i read your post it was though you was writing about me, my ex husband still doesnt see anything wrong and my son was diagnosed in sept 2010,my son is quite difficult at the mo and when i try and discuss it with his dad he just answers that hes ok when he stays with him, good luck x

Hello all.

I hope some of you can agree with me.  I met my partner in Nov 2011 and he had his son living with him who was 10 at the time. As the weeks went on I noticed something not right about his son.  Over the next few months I went on the internet about his behaviour and he was showing classic signs of Aspergers.  The stress for me and my 10 yr old daughter got too much and had to have a word with the headmistress as he was driving my daughter crazy at school - in her face and being nasty to her mates. he only had one female friend and no one else.  By Nov 2012 We could not take the stress anymore and I split up with my partner.  I am sooooo upset over this and miss my partner deeply but since I spoke out about his son - to hopefully get him the help he needs, my partner and his family all turned against me and despise me so much.  I was only wanting help for his son before he starts senior school in Sept cos am convinced he will be bullied as he stands out!!!!! Will my ex ever say sorry to me, have me back and accept his sons' problems?? jayne x


Hi there,
My eldest child is nearly 12 and this Monday gone we finally got a diagnosis after ten years of being made to feel like he is just boy being or boy, or that it was my fault as I suffered sever post natal phychosis after he was born.
I only mention all of the above, because my sons dad and I split when he was nearly four, and from the beginning he could never except what deep down I've always known, our son wasn't like other boys his age.
This had gone on for years, him denying there was anything not quite right, I get that he lived two hours away so didn't see all the things I and my husband saw, but he rapidly changed his mind one weekend when my son had a meltdown and threw a piece of 4x6 piece of wood down the stairs at his dad that narrowly missed his head by a couple of inches.
That day I had to pull him off my son, BUT, it was the shock he needed, as he could no longer deny what he had seen himself.

I think it's hard for any parent that doesn't live with the child to understand and fully appreciate the problems having a child with asd can have on family life, but I Know that I was right and that I did everything I could to get to the point we are at with the help of my husband.
If, your ex, buttons mum does not want to accept what is happening HE WILL miss out in the long run, yes you have gone through the pain and the fight to get your answer just like I have and many other mum on here, but at least we can rest at night knowing we did everything we possiblely could and often much more, in the long run, can our exes?

hey there buttons mum, horrible situation as it is, it seems your ex is going to be no use to you in this area untill he does accept it, which he might not do, so you just have to find a way to get through this as you have been doing 

its obviously a disgrace that it took that long for a diagnosis, but its at least some validation for you that the pedeatrition accepted their mistake, even if they didnt outright say it, and that you will now be able to get help you deserve, but your ex isnt likely to be the one to give you it from what youve said here

just get on with your life, try not to expect anything from him, and if in the future he does eventually accept it, great, if not, you can manage without him doing so

Father (ex) in denial and more

This is clearly a big issue for some dads.

My ex also refuses to accept that our son may have aspergers; at the age of 11, he's finally in the assessment process now, with lots of support from his school, after years of me suspecting 'something'. I have been very open with my son about the process (he doesn't like surprises!) but his dad actually tells him "I don't think there's anything wrong with you", completely undermining all the effort the rest of us are making to make him feel ok about it!

How can I unplant the horrible seed his dad is nurturing that aspergers = wrong?

a bit of an update, my son has now been statemented and is attending a special school, something which his dad was very much opposed to, however after my son being unable to attend school through anxiety and becoming increasing withdrawn for the past year he has attended 2 full weeks, full time and no longer spends all day and night hidden in his room, his dad now accepts what I have done was the right thing and is slowly accepting his sons condition even if he doesn't admit it to me. Support your child and trust your instincts, do what you feel is right and in the end actions speak louder than words.