I have a 13 year old son who I believe has PDA. He's recently been self medicating with smoking weed and I really don't know how to deal with him or this situation.
It started in the summer, we tried all the usual methods of punishment such as grounding him, taking his stuff off him, turning off the WiFi etc. He doesn't seem to understand consequences and ran away because we refused to turn the WiFi on. We grounded him and he climbed out of the window in the middle of the night to visit his friends! We tried taking his mobile phone and he became violent, I called the police and he didn't even care. He just sat there and smirked in front of the officer and was disrespectful. He has punched doors, mirrors and throws objects at us if we challenge him on his rudeness or try and take control of a situation regardless of consistency in our approach.
I regularly search his room and confiscate anything to do with weed or smoking. I do not give him any money but he 'earns' his share by rolling for others and he seems to know a lot of other teens who use it so is always able to access it even without any money.
I have tried talking to him to reassure him that we (his parents) are here to support him trying to stop and this is a dangerous path he is taking but he is so cocky, he just tells me that all his mates do it and there is no need to worry! He does it to reduce anxiety and 'chill'.
He was supposed to be assessed in school by an ed psych in September but refuses to go to school a lot so the ed psych made a home visit and chatted to his dad and I instead. We agreed on things like him not having to wear a full school uniform (he wears black skinny jeans and smart black trainers instead), also rather than going to internal exclusion most of the time as this was proving an ineffective method of punishment for him to sit with his head of year instead. He is struggling to go to school at all at the moment even on a reduced timetable and I feel it is only a short matter of time before he is permanently excluded due to his persistent rudeness and inability to do anything he is told to in the class room.
We tried taking him to counselling in the summer, but he refused to engage with the counsellor making our sessions pointless.
His behaviour is making both his dad and I ill and we are now struggling to cope with him. We have a younger child aged 11 with ASD but his behaviour is not aggressive and we are not having any issues with him.
We cannot go on living like this, unfortunately we do not have any relatives he can stay with to give us a break, I know if I called social services he would never forgive me. Does anyone have any idea how I can move forward?
Any strategies or advice would be welcome as we are desperate, and his abusive behaviour is scaring our younger son which I cannot continue to allow.
Many thanks Marie
What you think of as abusive behaviour is simply, your boy, telling you that he loves you. I am 51 years old and I can tell you, that your boy, in his 'worst' behaviour is him saying, I love you, please don't leave me. Seriously, autism is a very weird thing but I can tell you, your boy loves you and he's trying his best to tell you that. Our world is not the same as yours, so it's going to take some effort for us to understand each other but trust me, your boy loves you, he just can't tell you that in a way that you can understand. We really do see the world differently from you but that doesn't mean we're wrong or stupid or that you're wrong, it just means that's it's going to take some time and patience to understand each other.
Oh, by the way, I self medicate with weed and it may not be the best option, but it's the best I've got right now. Your girl might want to speak to me x
You may like to contact our Autism Helpline team who can provide you with information and advice . You can contact the team via telephone on 0808 800 4104 (Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm, Friday 9am to 3pm). Please note that the Helpline is experiencing a high volume of calls and it may take a couple of attempts before you get through to speak to an advisor. Alternatively, should you prefer to send a message, you can do so via their webform:
If you keep checking back there may also be some other community members who can offer you some helpful personal experience too.
Hi, my partner has been self medicating with weed since he was about that age he suffers violent rage black outs when the slightest thing is not right. When he "medicates" he can slow his thoughts down and not jump straight to rage. He got in alot of trouble when he was younger with the police for assaulting people who "wronged " him. He has slowly cut down and still managed to keep his temper under control.
He is currently trying cbd oil as a replacement as it does not have the associated risks of smoking or the legal implications but it is to early to say how effective it is.
Same here. I also tried some Ritalin, ADHD medication yesterday and it was the best thing I’ve ever taken! I’ve never felt so calm or as productive! I’m definitely going to go and see about getting it prescribed.
Thank you everyone. I will be contacting the autism help team thank you Heather. Graham I am currently reading the link you posted thank you.
BlueRay I am glad you are feeling calm with the Ritalin, I was considering this a few months ago and made an appointment with the GP, but unfortunately my son refused to go. I still went and had a chat with the doctor and came out with a prescription for myself, so at least I don't feel as up tight as I did.
I think the thing that is worrying me the most is the fear that the weed will lead on to something harder and stronger and my mind spirals out of control and I imagine him spending his life as a junkie. Then I realise that this is something a lot of teenagers will do anyway and it probably is typical teenage behaviour anyway. Then I think that because I am a terrible worrier I always imagine the worst anyway.
This is so hard as the more I try and intervene the more he pushes back. My husband says we should back off with the hope that he feels he can approach us or talk to us. I believe it is very important for a child to feel they can come to their parents for help and support, but on the other hand I feel a responsible parent should be doing something!
Anyway, thanks again! wish you all a very happy New Year
You’re doing a brilliant job as a parent. I know, from being the autistic child, how difficult it is to try and parent an autistic child - we’re the hardest! I love your husband’s suggestion and think it really is the best approach because at least if you’re not fighting with him and opposing him, you’re leaving space for some understanding to somehow seep through.
It’s not easy but he is less likely to move on to other things if he is also getting loving support at home. Smoking weed may not be ideal, but I swear I wouldn’t have got through my life without it and the only thing that I’ve found that works better, is the Ritalin, and I only had that for the first time yesterday.
You really are doing a great job. Your son is a very lucky boy. Make sure you look after you as well so you can keep on being there for him, because we seem to need support for longer than the average kid.
Happy new year to you too X
Aw thanks BlueRay, can I ask how long you have been smoking weed for? Were you a teenager when you started?
Yes, I was 13/14 when I started smoking weed, then in 2006 (after more than 20 years of smoking) I joined NA and AA and stopped all drugs and drink for 7 years, after which, I started to smoke it again. I realised that smoking weed actually helped me, a lot, in many ways but I could also see that maybe it wasn’t the best option. However, it was the best option I had at the time, although since I’ve discovered Ritalin, I’m thinking that I could put together all the things that do work, in a way that I get the best out of all of them and none of the side effects. For example, running, walking, strength training, yoga and meditation all help me and are crucial in fact, to my health and well being and recently I’ve discovered that prayer and reading the bible also help, a lot. But I also found out that none of these things work if I don’t smoke weed as well but equally, if I smoke too much weed, I don’t get round to doing any of the other things. So it’s a balance and now, with my many years of life experience (I’m 51 now) and my many experiements etc, I can see what might work very well for me. It’s just a matter of putting them altogether and I’ve got a good feeling that this year, (2019) I’m going to do just that.
Your son is still very young but I would say that smoking weed is probably less harmful than pharmaceutical drugs. My son (who isn’t autistic) started smoking weed at the age of 13 and he’s 30 now and rarely smokes it. For him it wipes him out and he doesn’t get nothing done. Some of his friends still smoke it but many don’t and some can take it or leave it. Maybe if you look at it as something that is currently helping your son and that it doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily to smoking it for the rest of his life. But seriously, the fact that you’re even discussing it with us shows that you care very much for your son and what’s best for him and that’s the foundational ingredient for a good relationship. It’s really hard for your son to let you know what’s going on inside of him and if the smoking gives him some comfort then that’s a good thing and with some time and a lot of patience etc etc he may begin to be able to open up to you more.
Thank you for sharing your experience, you sound like you have a plan for 2019 putting together all these things which work for you - it's probably a bit of trial and error to find the perfect recipe, but all sounds good and positive.
It's reassuring to hear how both you and your son have been smoking for such a long period of time. I think sometimes I need to remember just how common smoking weed is and not automatically fear the worst.
I caught him smoking out of his window last night, I didn't shout at him, but reminded him that he was not allowed to bring weed into the house and that we would talk about it tomorrow (today). I know I should confiscate it along with his grinder, tobacco pouch, rizlas and whatever else he's got but this will prompt him to go into a rage and possibly become violent. Maybe I should just try and talk to him instead. What would you have done if your parents tried to confiscate your weed when you were a teen? Probably made you more determined to get some more!
Anyway I'll stop rambling!