Young man in need of help but he doesn't want it


I am an aunt to an almost 30 year old young man who lives with his grandparents as he has had problems with his mother and second husband since he was 16. Half his life has been spent with grandparents that are trying to take the place of his parents (his dad is dead) - this is not a good combination when the grandparents are in the 80's.

He is a clever boy and was diagnosed as being dyspraxic when he was just 8 or 9.  This however, in my opinion was not a full diagnosis as he is certainly on the autistic spectrum, maybe aspergers.

He failed his A levels despite the fact he is brilliant with facts and general knowledge. He just can't express himself and has few social skills. I am with my parents a lot but also have my own family to look after ad live abroad.  He has never had a job that he has managed to keep for more than 6 weeks.  He was recently told he did not fit in with the rest of the office and would have to leave. I have offered to pay for him to go to an educational psychologist but he refuses and tells me I must think he is 'crazy'.  I once managed to get him to go to the Job centre and talked to the person supposedly responsible for people with disability but they were fairly useless and he got very frustrated with them and then refused to sign on or go to any more meetings as they just kept suggesting totally unsuitable jobs for him.  He cannot drive but has a moped which limits his sphere of work available.

The problem now that after over 10 years of no one taking him under their wing and him not wanting to be treated as 'disabled' (I don't think he every tells employers about his disability and very few people would understand the problem if he doesn't explain it at the outset) he is getting severly depressed and has violent outbursts.  In a house with 2 elderly grand parents this is very worrying for me as I can see something going very very wrong.  My mum won't see him out on the road but clearly wants to see him independant, my dad just wants him out but on the other hand feels obliged to 'put up with him'.  I don't think he could cope on his own but his immediate family who live just 10 minutes walk down the road have just handed the problem to my parents and when I am here, to me. 

His problems are obvioulsy exacerbated by his mother and sisters rejection and his utter contemp for his step father.  He needs emotional help and guidance which no one in the family seems to be able to give him.  I would dearly love to find him a 'buddy' that could suggest suitable employment with an employer who understands he needs of dyspraxic/aspergers employees or someone who could suggest further training that would leed to employment.  He just needs a job to give him some self worth and allow him to be independant.

Does anyone have any useful information or suggestions - I would dearly love to see him happy and content in work which would turn his life around,


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  • I suppose a large portion of it depends on how the topic is first approached.

    For example, if you went in saying "I think you need to see a (Educational) Psychologist..." well, not many folks would feel great about that. You may as well just say, "you need to see a shrink!"

    (side note: why an Educational Psychologist - why not a Cognitive or Occupational Psychologist etc?).

    Rather, if it's possible, it would be best to broach the subject over a cuppa, in an environment he's secure in, without other people around, and when he's in a 'good' (receptive) mood, using questions such as:

    "Are you happy?"

    "Do you have any particular goals you want to achieve over the next few years?"

    "Are there any areas in life you find particularly difficult / would like to improve upon?"

    "Do you find there any parts of your life that are upsetting you?"

    "Would you be open to getting outside support (if I promise to be with you every step of the way)?"

    It's all about prompting an actual conversation, whereby he feels very much a part of the process - rather than a victim being told he is "wrong" or "needs help" (where he has to live with the perception that others view him as 'defective').

    One possibility is that you could always phone through a referral to your local council, to their Adult Social Services. That way, a Social Worker or Community Care Worker could be arranged to come out and visit him, towards providing support. This could take many forms, from seeking counselling, arranging social engagement activities, re-training, or help towards independent living etc. Anyone at all can make a referral to be seen by Social Services.

    Usually, in any such referral, they'll ask if your nephew is aware that you're calling... and if he is not, they will not pursue the matter any further (likewise, if you lie and just say 'yes' and he isn't actually aware of the referral, the Social Workers will only cut contact later on if they find out). So, it's all about prompting a conversation in the first instance, putting a referral to Social Services in a positive way (there's a common misconception whereby people feel they'll automatically be put into homes or institutions, or get into 'trouble', whereby the focus is genuinely on doing what's best for the individual)... and getting your nephew to a point whereby he's ready for you to make the call on his behalf, so he's willing to actively engage with Social Services when they do get back in touch.

    Essentially, phoning to make the referral is just the first step in getting the ball rolling. Likely, you'll need to explain your nephew's living arrangements, his next of kin, personal details (like D.O.B), any relevant medical history (including medications he may be on), and be specific as to just what your concerns are (the clearer you can be on this the better). Ideally, you will be able to suggest just what you feel Social Services could do for him - such as help him get a formal diagnosis, or help towards independent / supported living etc.

    That way, a professional representative of the Social Services will be able to come out, sit your nephew (and you?) down, discuss things in a positive and productive manner, and get the ball rolling towards a happier life. But I can't emphasise enough that the success of this would - for a large part - rest on just how you broach and portray this to your nephew in the first instance.