Who can help me anh my son?

My 17 yo son has recently tested positive for autism. He is getting increasingly withdrawn, and getting dangerously thin with not eating. It is the second week now he hasn’t seen his counsellor as he is in bed 24/7 and is becoming increasingly withdrawn. We don’t know where on the spectrum he is at the moment, we don’t know where to turn to get this sorted.  It is impossible to get a dr’s appointment, it is a 3 week wait and when he does get there he isn’t taken seriously.

I just don’t know where to turn anymore, I can see he’s deteriorating, I try getting him up out of bed and he goes back to sleep a minute later, we have tried to get him downstairs but he won’t eat, I’ve tried letting him upstairs with it, he won’t eat. Today he has had some toast but that will most likely be it for the day.

We have done research into autism after he tested positive and he has a lot of the characteristics of Asperger’s but again I’m lost for what best to do as we don’t seem to be getting anywhere at all.

  • Hi there, I am sorry to hear about the situation you are facing. Thanks for taking the time to share this it takes a lot of bravery and courage to do so. In regards, to not eating would it be worth getting a specialist on the field e.g. food psychologist, dietician, nutritionist etc. I don't know if it will help but its a thought. It might be worth seeking local services to see what is available in your area depending on the age, location, hours. Potentially, he may benefit from one-to-one support or a mentor.

    Another thing is that you could use the NAS site for tools, guidance and support. It covers different topics. I am not sure what else is there but keep trying to get an earlier appointment with your GP there could be a chance someone has rescheduled or cancelled. If things do get more concerning try visiting http://www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines/main.aspx

    You are doing brilliant try not to feel sad by what's going on (I know easier said then done). But, you are doing all that you can. What you are doing is exceptional. There may be foods he won't like based on texture, colour, taste, smell etc...it depends on many things. It might be beneficial to try some of those cards perhaps with the signs/ symbols, make a short, brief (bullet point) list with things to do? 

    I hope some of this helps sorry I couldn't be much help.

  • Yes, dieticians can really help with eating problems, and not just physical ones. He sounds depressed. Has he had contact with CAMHS? Whoever made the diagnosis should be able to refer on to some kind of mental health help. Have you requested a needs assessment under the Care Act? Social services maybe should have a plan for his transition to adulthood.

    Can I suggest kinds of encouragement that aren't like to be perceived as pressure? Helping him feel able to face the world, by praise and talking through possible positives and anything that might be causing anxiety.

    I hope you both can get a suitable referral. You might be able to get same-day or next-few-days GP appointments if you ring or queue at the right time - a lot of receptionists at GP surgeries don't make that obvious. In the worst case there's A&E mental health.

  • Has your son become withdrawn since his diagnosis? Have his eating problems started since his diagnosis? If these problems have arisen only since he was diagnosed, your son may be anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or in shock over his ASD diagnosis and his eating problems and withdrawal may be symptoms of that. If that is the case, he may simply need time and patience to acclimatise to the news. 

    Sleeping more, and tiredness in general, are signs of overload and so if your son is feeling overwhelmed by his diagnosis it would be natural and expected that he feels overwhelmingly tired and sleeps more (excessively more) during this period of adjustment. 

    As he is sleeping so much, his food and energy levels will naturally be far lower than normal but the fact that he is eating even toast is a good sign. He doesn't sound as if he is refusing food for dieting / weight loss reasons but more as a symptom of his emotional state at the moment. (If the problems around food have only started since his diagnosis.)