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,
Is there an autism support group near you? Check the directory on the NAS website or try calling the telephone helpline.
Have you spoken to his GP to voice your concerns, or maybe contacted the "wellbeing team" at your local council?
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.
I was going to suggest calling social services, as Evan suggested, but as Evan said, your nephew needs to be in agreement with the referral.
As Evan said, it’s all about how you approach the situation and I agree with him completely. And you have to be sincere with your intentions as well, or he will spot it. If you come from the perspective of wanting to support him, rather than deal with him because he’s a problem, then you will have a greater chance of supporting him.
The only thing I would add, is that he is entitled to free independent advocacy support who are excellent as they are often people who have been in similar situations. The advocacy worker will work with him, to find out what his needs are and how he would like to meet them. Then they will help him to communicate this with the social worker. There will be options that he hasn’t thought of and the advocacy worker can help with that.
It sounds like he needs supporting into some kind of independent living. Whether that’s in a group home set up or by himself. It is better that this is approached sooner rather than later. His grandparents won’t be around forever and it’s better for everyone if this can be considered now, rather than in a crisis situation.
You need to be clear and firm and sensitive to how he is feeling. I’m apparently depressed, but I don’t feel it. However, after several months and since starting medication, I can see that I could be depressed, whatever that means. What I’m saying, is, when people first started to say I was depressed, I thought they were crazy, and it made me not trust them. However, I’m starting to see that from the outside, I do look like I’m depressed, I’m not going out, not eating very well or often, no energy, apathy etc. Yet, I honestly never, and still don’t, feel how I think someone feels when they're depressed. However, I’m less suspicious of my doctors etc now so I’m starting to trust them a little more and accept some support. But it’s taken months for me to get to this stage, and I’m 50 years old with a lot of experience and wisdom behind me. He’ll be very closed off to his feelings so to make any real progress, he needs to be treated with sensitivity and respect for where he’s at within his mind, and he needs to feel safe and supported.
It’s not an easy situation to be in, my heart goes out to all of you. There are no easy answers either and any progress made won’t necessarily all be an upward hill. There could be ups and downs. But he certainly does need support and you sound genuinely concerned for all concerned. You’ve got a clear picture of the situation. Your first hurdle is getting him on board. This is his life we’re talking about and he has to have a say in that. I don’t know if it’s possible, but would you be able to be around for a few weeks to get the ball rolling and support your parents as well. Social services are very big at the minute on taking family support into consideration and they do encourage family support. However, sometimes this is wholly inappropriate and that’s why your parents will need support as well. The local social services will put you in contact with an advocacy support group. Best wishes to you all.
Hi, thanks for all your replies.
I cannot do anything without him agreeeing and at the moment he won't even talk. He is entering into another period of depressin due to being laid of due to 'not fitting in with the other workers'. He just cannot seem to accept he is different. He is a very clever boy with a high IQ but is socially awkward in a way that puts people off. Even I, who know his problems, find myslef losing patience with him. He desperately needs to tal to someone with no family connection, no predjudices but even starting a conersation with him about this is very difficult. My parents can't really handle him and he now spends all day, eveyr day in his room getting angrier and angrier. His own mother nether speaks to her own parents and very rarely him as she also seems to balme them for his problems. Yet if it was not for my parents he would be sleeping on the street. He is precluded from unemlpoyment benefit because he does temping work for agencies (until each job gradually does not want him back), he cannot be helped to be independant because my parents refuse to see him homeless despite the fact he needs to move out for his sake and theirs. He seemingly has a middle class, secure home where every effort has been given to help him. Yet it is the wrong help as he just relies more and more on my parents, his grandparents. He does nothing in the house, has never even made a cup of tea for his grandmother in the 12 years he has lived here and yet it is as much my parents fault as his. He has been treated like a handicapped child for too long and needs to be helped out of this situation. Getting social services on board will not be easy without him accepting it from the outstart. Any more suggestions very welcome,
That's the problem with autism - as you often fall between the cracks both within the system, as well as within society. You're clearly 'clever', so most people won't allow you the luxury of genuine understanding - you're just seen as a 'weirdo', 'trouble maker' or 'deviant'.
From what you said, I personally think the best way forward would - in the first instance - be a referral to social services... to the primary goals of a) getting him a formal diagnosis (which may work in his favour should his future (in)employment become more difficult) and b) towards independent living (i.e. his own place, where he may feel more relaxed.
But also from what you said, this isn't gonna be easy. And, I think this man's future does unfortunately rest in your caring hands.
Again, it's gonna rest in how you communicate this to him. You say he's got a high IQ? Okay, so appeal to that. Sit him down in one of his better moods, without him feeling attacked, and appeal to his intellect - ask him to extrapolate forward, when his grandparents have passed on, and based on his experience thus far, ask him to have a hard, honest think as to what his future holds.
Now, if you can reassure him that you'll be with him every step of the way - without judgement or recrimination - say how willing you are to help him bring about a more positive and fulfilling future. But, it's gonna need his involvement just as much so, if not more, than yours. So be clear, that whilst you're honestly wanting to support him through to make the most of his potential, that he has to be an active, willing and co-operative participant in the process. Otherwise, his future holds very real concerns, which you can't tackle on your own, and NOW is the time to take the right steps to change things (as Blueray rightly said, now being much better than at crisis point).
I'm not saying this is gonna be easy, especially if he's not willing to engage. Maybe it's not one conversation, but a series of conversations that get him using that sharp intellect to think about his future.
I note with interest how you refer to him as a "boy" - yet say he is 30 years old. Could this be part of the wider problem... insomuch that the wider family dynamics have put him in the place of the 'child'? If so - if your family (subconsciously) see him as a 'boy' - then what motivation has he got to be anything else? You assume the role you're given.
Maybe you need to be a pioneer... and be the first family member to treat him as the man he is? Maybe, with someone treating him like an adult for the first time - which includes burdening him with the prospect of really considering his own well-being and future for the first time - he may be forced to use his smarts to more responsible and self-actualising behaviour?
Of course, if he has become accustomed to the 'child' role, then expect resistance! After all, no-one gives-up being pampered on easily (hence why it may be better to emphasise the positives of independent living, to make it more appealing than living with his grandparents). Again, this has all the hallmarks of a long game, rather than a one-off short term solution. And, a shift in the family dynamics (i.e. you and your parents thinking, perspective and behaviours) seems just as necessary a change, as does change on his behalf.
PS: I just wanted to say, he's a very lucky chap to have you looking out for him! ;-)
I would say, contact the local social services department and ask to be referred for independent advocacy. There is no fault or blame here with anybody but it is a situation which will quickly turn into a crisis situation if something isn’t done soon. The independent advocate needs to contact him and go and see him. If they don’t, we’re going to have a crisis situation. An independent advocate is the best option to start with. I would say that he temporarily lacks the capacity to make major decisions in his life, for example, where to live, and I would hate for it to get to the stage where he is sectioned. I know his consent is required for a referral to the social worker but it may not be the case with the advocates. It may be that an imca (independent mental capacity assessor) gets involved but your first port of call is to contact the local social services department and make them fully aware of the situation, so you’re not trying to deal with this yourself. Don’t take no for an answer. If they say they can’t send somebody out then say you need a psychiatrist or suitably trained person to come out to do an assessment because you are not prepared to let this get to a crisis situation, it is way too serious and dangerous for that, not to mention distressing. Be super clear about your intentions when you phone up and refuse to be fobbed off. Mention safeguarding if needs be, of three vulnerable adults. This boy needs help, you all do. Don’t take no for an answer. Tell them this is a safeguarding incident and you need somebody to take action now. Good luck, don’t be fobbed off, mention lack of capacity to make major decisions such as to where he should live, and also safeguarding. Good luck.
Blueray: you give good, sound advice. However, from my previous experience of working on behalf of a local authority social services, I think the Safeguarding issue - whilst certainly worth trying - may not result in much.
Whenever anyone used to raise a 'Safeguarding' concern, then - even if these were medical professionals like GP's or Nurses, or even the Police etc - the Social Services were very proactive in asking just how it was a 'Safeguarding'... insomuch that the person raising the safeguarding concerns has to be quite clear and specific as to just how the health, safety or well-being of the individual is at immediate risk.
And, therein lies the rub... that the safeguarding concern has to be happening now, and not based on a hypothetical situation of what may potentially happen in the future. This isn't said to be cold-hearted or callous, but simply that whilst anyone (be this a professional, family member, or just a concerned member of the public) can raise a safeguarding concern, they have to be prepared to be challenged on it, and clearly state how the immediate well-being of the person is directly at risk. If it's not, the social services never used to accept it as a high-priority 'safeguarding' issue, and would always say to raise it as a standard referral (which takes longer to be triaged to an allocated Social Worker or Community Care Worker).
The reality is that whilst NAS36348's nephew and parent's are in an immensely difficult situation - with the reality being that things will actually get worse if left unattended - social services likely wouldn't see if as a 'safeguarding' concern per se. Ultimately, he is currently sheltered, fed and surrounded by well-meaning family looking after him - which doesn't meet the safeguarding criteria.
This isn't said to be discouraging at all, but simply so that NAS36348 can go into the situation with the full facts, and realistic expectations. It's why a referral seems to be best made sooner rather than later - and as you suggest seeking Advocacy could be a good idea towards this.
I know what you’re saying Evan, I used to work as a social worker but if you mention the word safeguarding and mental capacity it sometimes gets flagged to the manager who will often turn it down, as you said, but the name will be noted and those who shout the loudest often get seen first. I think the independent advocacy will be a good option as they have more time to spend with people and a referral to a social worker won’t be made without his permission. The wellbeing team, if there is one in his area would be a good option as well. Their work is based on prevention.