My daughter is 24 & has ASD, anxiety, depression etc - I don't know what else to do to help her :( Anyone else feel blamed for their kid's symptoms?

My daughter is 24 and was diagnosed with ASD late last year.  She's always suffered from severe anxiety, which led to depression, and has been trying to get help since she was 17.  I'm waiting to get an Autism assessment myself, although I'm nearly 100% sure I'm in there somewhere!  We both have EDS, and the link has been made between the two illnesses recently.  She has been a nightmare to cope with since she was about nine, but got significantly worse at puberty.  The local mental health team have been appallingly bad, they ignored us suggesting she was in the spectrum for year.  Now all they'll offer is group therapy based on "mentalization", which looks to me like the basic CBT she's had suggested many times before.

She has typical depression symptoms of not getting up, missing school/Uni; not washing or brushing her teeth; not engaging with life at all; being nocturnal etc.  She was suicidal in her teens, but we seemed to manage to help her with that.  Family therapy's advice was "do nothing"!!!!!!

I suggested a move to a local Uni, as she got much worse A levels that her intelligence would suggest, although she only attended school about 50% of the time, so did well to get her three Cs. I wondered if the thought of being many miles away was part of why she felt she couldn't apply for courses.   After a couple of years of being at home getting worse and worse, her GP changed her anti-depressant which helped, while the MHT didn't prescribe anything.  When the dose was increased, she eventually became well enough to attend the local Uni and move out into Halls.

She failed her first year, as she couldn't bring herself to do her work, sometimes couldn't hand it in, for some reason.  She's changed courses and prefers the one she's on.

It became clear that the psychiatrist (Freudian) was blaming ME for her symptoms!  I've done research and seen that this used to be the case years ago - separation problems etc - but honestly it's so frustrating!  It's my genes that she has, but all the mental health professionals seem to think it's my fault she is as she is.  I have another daughter who is physically disabled, probably also in the spectrum, but who has no anxiety at all, and they have the same Mum.  I am quite confident-sounding, and obviously fairly opinionated, but I really have tried to tone it down when I had dealings with the MHT, but when they're just not helping at all, the frustration is so severe. 

I shouldn't bang on so much, but it's as though the symptoms continually surprise them, and the fact that they've "followed" her to Uni, too.  She's in a shared house and I know her symptoms bother her house mates and people on her course.  She comes across as "normal" in conversation, but then how she acts afterwards is clearly detrimental to her health.  I'm sick of medical professionals telling her she should exercise, eat healthily, drink plenty of water, get out of bed during the day and do her work, etc as though telling her just not to have her symptoms!  They don't look behind WHY she can't manage to do these things.  It isn't that she doesn't want to, the poor woman!  It's putting the cart before  the horse, help her with her problems, find a way to help, and then her symptoms will subside.,

Over the years, I've nagged, been angry, been as kind as a kind thing, done nothing... all to no avail.  Now I try to occasionally help from afar, but the medics don't understand that she doesn't open letters, doesn't make phone calls, doesn't make appointments, etc.  If I leave it up to her, nothing "official" gets done at all.  I even have to keep on checking she's taking her medication & have lost count of the times she's finally admitted that she's run out, and had to coerce her GPs practice into immediately providing a prescription.  They have her letter of diagnosis, but can't get past her presenting as "normal" so don't make allowances or understand what her behaviour is like, they expect her to take her pills etc.

I don't want to micromanage her, I want her to become independent, but whenever I leave things alone, she just seems to do things she's completely obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons, but no washing, Uni work, teeth brushing etc.  My husband and I, and her big sister, wonder if she'll ever be able to live an independent life, which is really worrying.

She says thing she shouldn't (me too! but I realise afterwards and try to make a mental note), is too "huggy" and tactile with people, but won't listen to us explaining why she shouldn't be like that.  She feels things so strongly (me too), but insists on acting upon the feeling instead of reflecting and realising she shouldn't.

We have ended up having a rocky relationship, as everything has to be her way, and she shows little interest in our lives, despite all of us loving her and being interested in hers, although we try not to intrude.

How can I help her?  How can I make others understand the depth of her problems?. There is no-one local who does psychotherapy/counselling for Autistic people, and I can't drive her miles and miles, as I'm not physically well myself & have her sister to care for.

If anyone has nay suggestins, I'd be very grateful.


  • Im not sure how much help ill be, but im an autistic woman who's also experienced fairly severe anxiety and depression. That was what led to me getting my own diagnosis last year. Im quite a bit older than your daughter, so lots may be different but maybe it would help to share what has helped me a bit?

    Mainly for me its been realising that autism has been behind most of my mental health problems and that dealing with that will help a huge amount. Initially it was just such a relief that things 'werent my fault' but i guess your daughters beyond that stage if shes had the diagnosis a while?

    I found mainstream mental health support ineffective at best and harmful at worst. Being told to change things you cant help isnt helpful! I found watching youtube vidoes by sarah hendrickx realky useful post-diagnosis. She talks specifically about autistic women and has a video about anxiety which she describes as being a perfectly rational (rather than irrational as suggested by most CBT strategies) response to living as an autistic in a neurotypical world that made a lot of sense to me. For me more mindfulness based and practical approaches have worked best. I worked for a month or two with a clinical psychologist who did understand ASD. The sort of things she suggested were using sensory calming strategies, eg for me a weighted blanket, being in water, certain smells, fiddle toys, certain music, ear defenders in noisy environments, (avoiding primark always at all costs!). This really helps. 

    Ive also found a counsellor that i speak to via skype through action for aspergers which has bedn hugely helpful as they really do understand and offer practical suggestions as well as counsel.

    In terms of being independent i have also had to concede that i basically cannot manage a full time job plus daily living successfully. I now have a cleaner and use a meal delivery service. I am still independent, just not doing everything myself... or so i tell myself! And bluntly if i didnt pay all bills by direct debit they would not get paid. I used to specialise in red bills.

    In terms of remember to do things it could be she simply needs a foolproof organisation system. I say simply... of course it isnt simple to work it out. I find if i dont have a routine at home things get forgotten (like keys, dentists... etc). I use outlook to schedule everything.. and when outlook says jump... you get the picture!

    Probably the main thing she needs to know is there are ways round most things but it might take time to work them out. But that there is hope. Does she hav3 support at uni ('cos she ought to). Ive found it is hard to get taken seriously as a woman who masks well ( or can anyway!) which has meant ive had to search out my own support. PM me if you wan5 to chat, or if she does. Think youll have to friend request me first as thats how im set up

    Goodluck xx

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