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son - control

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My husband and eldest son have diagnoses of AS.  In addition they both have mental health issues.  My husband has lived separately from the family unit for nearly two years, although he visits daily, and my eldest son  (nearly 18) has returned home to live after several months in a CAMHS unit.

However, it is my youngest son (nearly 16) who I am really worried about.  My youngest has issues with anxiety and social/emotional behaviour.  Professionals suspect autism, but my sn refuses to pursue formal diagnosis.  The behaviour that worries me, and that I find so difficult to manage, involves control.

My youngest has refused school for 2.5 years and is now taught on a very part time basis, in 1-1 sessions in a local PRU unit. He also attends a practical mechanics workshop (cars are his passion) for one day a week.  The rest of the time, he is at home, except for his daily gym sessions.

Yet, my youngest has an incessant drive to control everything in his environment.  He has a rigid eating routine which, whilst very healthy, limits gluten lactose and cardbohydrates.  He also works out at the gym every day.  As a result he is lean (to the point of thinness) and very strong.  However, he tries to impose his routine on his older brother and his father when he visits.  He constantly questions them about what they have eaten, tries to force my eldest (who is a little laid back) to engage in rigorous exercise (my eldest goes on 30 mile bike rides to escape his brother) and discusses, at length, the content of every food item in the house.  He asks me repetitively if he is 'fat' and seems moritfied if he feels he has eaten too much.  He has looked up his father's BMI and calls him 'obese' and 'weak' when he visits.  He also derides any success my husband has, saying he should get a job and stop being a 'dosser'.  I clamp down on this rudeness, but my husband cannot cope and ends up leaving  the house or screaming at my son.

Although I answer  my son's questions about food/weight calmly and 'scientifically'  I worry tremendously because I had a profound eating disorder when I was younger and the questions he asks are so similar to the ones I asked in the throws of an eating disorder.   My youngest never singles me out with respect to eating or excercise, perhpas because he is aware of my history.

My youngest also seems to feel he must take over the houshold chores.  The floor has to be bleached and scrubbed and all shoes left at the door; mess is not tolerated; I work from home and the boks I use have to be stacked in a box in chronological order, my laptop wiped clean after use and so on.  I sound 'weak' as I list these things, but I find it much easier to pick my battles and allow the regime but come down firmly on any threats of violence that my youngest exhibits (and this can happen).

My eldest will be going to a group home soon.  He is a very gentle young man and the group home is quite local.  I feel sad, but I am glad that he will have the opportunity to relax a little at last.

My youngest is not happy.  Anxiety and the fear of losing control seem to drive his behaviour.  He has been violent towards me, in temper, for example, when I banned sessions at the gym because he lashed out at his brother.  My youngest accepted his consequence, apologised to his brother and seemed genuinely remorseful that he had attacked me.

The problem is that, although de-escalation strategies such as humour, distraction etc work to a certain extent; the behaviour continues.  Social services are involved with our family and my youngest keeps being referred to CAMHS and then discharged because he will not engage.  He attends appointments, but uses them to talk to the psychologist about cars, fitness or anything in his immediate environment.  Personal questions are normalised with retorts such as 'I just like to keep fit', 'I like to help Mum with the housework because shes busy', 'I want to help my brother to get a girlfriend'.  One alarming aspect of his behaviour is that he will lose his temper with the family pets (cats) and this has resulted in one of the animals becoming almost feral.  This is concerning, because the majority of the time, he is affectionate towards the cats, but they are wary of his unpredictable behaviour.  However, i have to supervise him when he interacts with animals because he has slapped the cats and thrown one across the room.

I do apologise for the length and detail of this message, but soon i will be on my own with my youngest.  He has many very positive qualities, but soon I will be on my own with him and I need effective strategies to help me manage this situation  more effectively.  Has anyone got any idesa?

Hopefully someone with some helpful advice will respond.

Sorry I can only give my thoughts, but I'm not in a similar situation.

It sounds like you're doing a great job, such as banning him from the gym. I have autism & am raising a child who isn't, so I can't imagine how difficult it must be. It seems like he has anger management issues that need to be addressed. Obsessions AKA controlling behaviour don't just lead to violence.

I can relate to going off on a tangent about obsessions when talking to professionals. It's not deliberate, they are fixations that he literally can't get out of his head at the moment. But if they can lead to harming others mentally then he needs to be shown why.

The problem with autism is that people often speak their mind & can confuse their thought process with honesty. It being that honesty is thought of as right.

It would be interesting to know if there's any reason why he harmed the cat. Has the cat struck claws out at him? Cats can sense fear, which they can interpret as an imminent threat/attack. Which is usually met with a defensive scratch attack, even if you've done nothing. Trying to physically control a cat can result in a worse attack. To prevent it always believe the cat won't hurt you & don't try to control them. Cats seem vey autistic in themselves. Most don't like being looked in the eye, though they do like a blink squint.

Hi hobble,

I understand you have an enquiry regarding behaviour. People on the autism spectrum disorder can often display behaviour that may be challenging. There will generally be a reason for this and it is important to try and understand the trigger for the behaviour when developing strategies.

Please see the following link for further information on behaviour and strategies:

You may want to seek professional support regarding the behaviour. You can search for professionals in your area on the Autism Services Directory:

The following link provides information on getting help from social services:  (Child England and Wales) (Adult England and Wales)

The National Autistic Society also provides services which may be of help:

The Autism Helpline can provide information and advice on behaviour and strategies. Please see the following link for further information:

Best wishes,


ClaireHig wrote:

It sounds like you're doing a great job, such as banning him from the gym.

I'm not sure that I entirely agree with this. It sounds to me as though this person lives in a world of either

a) what he wants

b) punishment if he crosses a line

I don't think that this is a good environment for an autistic person. Autistic people need rules and consistency, but they don't need too much freedom and then retribution.

I was told, at my diagnosis, that the social environment is absolutely crucial to an autistic person's wellbeing. If the people around them are skilled and knowledgable in knowing how to motivate and channel an autistic person then the person can be transformed. If the person is controlled, and punished from time to time, then they lose their sense of balance and bad behaviours develop.

Have you been on any formal training on how to bring up a child with autism? It seems to me that the family needs 'treatment' sometimes.


Whether we acknowledge it or not every person is of the animal species. Although with autism we may lack social skills, we still have the fundamental animal know how. Her son acknowledged he had done wrong & even expected to lose his gym time. Autism isn't a get out of jail free card & it's good he seems to have been taught that.

He's made more vulnerable by the fact autism can lead to extreme obsessions. His time at the gym may well have fuelled his obsessions. Isn't 15 a bit young for a gym, even if the person was Neuro Typical. Or is the gym part of a Pupil Referral Unit, due to him refusing to go to school. If it's not & he goes during school time, is he doing it to escape people who may talk to him. Gyms are often filled with people obsessed with looking perfect, even if doing so can mess them up internally. Is that really a good place for someone like us to be, if we already have an obsession with health. He gets his obsession fed. And we have no knowledge of whether he even talks to anyone while there. Personally with the stories I've heard regarding gyms & steroids, I'd discourage my child from going to a gym.

Seeing someone who specifically specialises in autism is always best. But he isn't helping by refusing to be tested. CMHT will use psychiatric nurses without specific autism training, even where autism has been identified. You have to specifically request the right person. In my experience social services can't even spot autism, the advice is usually NT.