Seeking advice

Dear All

I'm not sure how to approach this, so I will just lay it all out there!

My son is 21.  He is intelligent,  has a good job, drives, regularly travels abroad alone and generally seems to be in charge of his life.  He still lives at home (we also have two grown up daughters still at home).  Last night we had another one of his 'episodes' which started, as always, with something very innocuous (I apparently bought the 'wrong' potatoes) and ended up with him smashing his mobile phone, running around the house screaming and crying, throwing things and slamming about.  This happens about once a month and has done for the last few years.  We have always regarded it as a hair-trigger temper, but I have started to realise that these incidents always happen when something very minor disrupts his plans (e.g. he was going to cook dinner last night), and that he seems totally unable to cope with the mildest of obstacles or disruptions.  Looking back, this pattern fits nearly all of his outbursts.  When he had calmed down he said he thought there was something wrong with him but didn't know what it was and couldn't explain it and didn't know how to describe his feelings.  He also said he wants to see a professional about his behaviour because he knows its not 'right'.  As I have no experience of autism I wonder if anyone could advise.  Is it possible that this is a form of autism or is he just a young man with a bad temper?  Thinking back to his childhood, I don't recall any other pointers, except he had a horror of getting dirty/covered in paint etc.  I know also that he worries excessively about anything and everything (he rings me up to check the windows are shut at home when he is out).  He also has Synaesthesia, although that might not be at all relevant.  I want to get him the right sort of help, so any advice would be appreciated.  If you've read this far (sorry for the long post), many thanks.

  • Hello,

    The quickest way to get a rough idea if your is autistic is to get to take the online tests. While not definitive, his score on these tests will let you know if further investigation into autism is advisable.

    I have synaesthesia and was able to drive, work etc at your son’s age. Synaesthesia is not a pointer to autism but it is more common in the autistic community.

    You can find online tests here and here.

    If you need further advice don’t be afraid to ask. We are the experts.

  • I agree that getting him to take some of the tests is a good idea.
    What you have described certainly sounds like what some people refer to as a meltdown. It can be very upsetting and frightening for the person concerned, as they are completely out of control during the episode, and is indeed often brought on by an unexpected change of plan. 

    It could, however, be an anger management issue or some other executive function 'blip'. The only way to know for sure is to see a (competent in the area) professional. 

    Re. the seeming lack of traits as a child, it might help to read this and see if anything rings a bell (although all autistic people present differently from one-another, this is a good text IMO and if a good portion of it is familiar it is likely autism is an option you want to follow up on).

    Also a lot of what is still in the public consciousness re. autism is very flawed. We do have empathic reactions to the feelings of others (but might find working out what someone else feels in the first place difficult, i.e. poor "cognitive empathy"), we do take part in imaginative play (many of us have abnormally vivid imaginations compared to non-autistic peers).

    I was very atypical myself in some ways as a child due to a combination of being female and exceptionally good at 'masking' (purposefully hiding my autistic traits and mimicking socially successful behaviours I observed in others), but I did have my 'slip-ups' especially when I was in a large group, a strange environment or meeting new people. My parents had no autism knowledge and I slipped through the net until my teens. Not an uncommon story at all.

    Good luck to you and your son, I hope he gets the right support for whatever ends up being the case. :)