Asperger's and Near Adult Children

My oldest two boys have Aspergers. My older one changed from an outgoing boy to very withdrawn in the 8th grade and was diagnosed. He became withdrawn and since then he has struggled with eye contact and talking to strangers or people he does not know well. He had some depression issues and did some counseling and medication for his Aspergers and ADD. His grades slipped. He started doing better towards the end of high school and he went off the meds and he was more than ready to head off to college. He ended up transferring back to a college here and living at home after a year away. He is doing much better and he seems happier. his grades are not the best but a low C average. He is smarter than this but lazy as he does not enjoy school. He is a gamer and spends most of his time if not at work or taking online classes gaming and staying in his room. He is more pleasant to be around now but I am most worried about him when he graduates next year and has to move out, get a job and do all the adult things himself. he has shown a lot of progress though so I am hopeful.

My bigger issue right now is my second child. He was diagnosed around the second or third grade. I always knew he was a bit different. Very smart. Very stubborn. Some anger issues (not violent just outbursts). He got easier in middle school as he found a sport that kept him busy and tired and he loved it and it became his everything. He began being easier to live with and talk to and he found a group/drive/purpose/hobby and we then spent a lot of time driving him around to practices and such. He excelled ar the sport. He had friends. He started to like social media. He always had good grades. Well, he got injured in his sport and he can no longer compete. It has been a year and I have seen a lot of depression and a lot of changes. Covid did not help and it pushed him into his room for most of the day. He does not play video games. He did end up getting into a good school but no sport will be played there so he does not seem too excited as a regular college kid says. He insists he wants to go.I have ended up doing most of the paperwork, logins, emails and everything else they require because he simply won't do it. It has been a stretch to get him to do the mandatory zoom calls that the college insists upon. I am at the point where I just need a break and I am ready for college to begin and for him to live a few hours away from home. I feel like my oldest son left for college for a year and came back happier and nicer and I am hoping this happens with him. He refused to participate in graduation whereas he would have I think if it had not been for the quarantine. When his birthday arrived, he got mad when we said happy birthday. He refused to get hugged. He left for most of the day. I made his favorite dinner and my youngest child baked him a cake. He came down for dinner and as we all start eating he held his down in his hands and refused to look up. He left the table without eating. Not sure why but the birthday dinner plate my youngest set for him did not help. He never touched the cake. He didn't want his gifts and took them begrudgingly making comments about how each one wouldn't work or taste good or he would probably lose it. I have tried to talk him into counseling but at 18 I can not force it. I am not sure what to do. Is it awful that I am ready for him to head to school for a mental break? I love him so much but he causes so much drama, attitude and angst most days that I am struggling. 

Can anyone else relate to any of this? My older Aspy boy also hates birthdays but he has gotten better with this. Does anyone else have a kid that hates attention like this? Thanks so much for letting me vent.

  • There is often a programming conflict as teenagers develop their own personalities.      From birth, we are programmed to be good, don't embarrass parents, be quiet etc. and so we comply.      As we develop our own tastes or can see different ways of doing things, we're just expected to go along with everyone else - even though we know it's really wrong for us.       We have people *telling* us what *we* like (normally what they want us to like) and eventually it all begins to close in.      But we try to be polite until it's clear that no-one is getting the message - but then it's conflict - and we're not good at resolving social problems.       We end up following a life that is further and further from what we want and need - but can't get off the train.

    He may be very stressed inside where he feels he has expectations that he neither wants or feels he can live up to.      This causes all sorts of internal conflicts than can't be resolved so we sit at 99% stressed - so the slightest thing triggers the full 100% vent - which is bad.

    Are you able to talk to him about what *he* wants from life - without putting pressure on what he feels he should answer?       Can a relative chat to him about it all?      

  • I do relate to this a lot, I’m am currently waiting for an official diagnosis but for me getting injured and being unable to continue playing in my sport ultimately leading to a complete breakdown. Sport definitely helped me manage everything and I feel for your son. I always say the only thing that got me through higher education was to study alongside a sports programme, it was still tough but having my sport as the main part of the course made it so much easier. 

    I got injured at 23 and it had become part of my working life too, everything revolved around it and it didn’t take long for everything else to start crumbling around me when I got injured. Had i had been more aware and diagnosed before my injury I may have been able to deal with it better. I had to start again after a complete meltdown at work splitting with my partner and moved back to my family home. After getting myself back together I found a job in sport that’s not needing the physical element of it and it has made all the difference (forgetting Covid and lockdown). It may be worth now looking for what options, now we have this down time to make plans and work out what we want moving forward, that he could potentially get stuck into and look at the other sports routes without playing.

    When I got injured I lost a huge part of myself and didn’t realise how much of an impact that would have on everything else. I have found that it’s not a bad thing to feel this way especially when it’s not something you chose, I struggle knowing my last game was played without me knowing it would be my last. But now I work in a role that supports high level athletes of all ages from transitioning either to senior sports, retirement and creating a sporting portfolio for them to use as a CV for when their day has come to move on from competing and transfer the skills they have learned and developed throughout their sporting career. There are many avenues in all sports that can be explored and if that is something he’s interested I’d definitely recommend looking into what he will want to do for work and how he can still include his love of sport. 

    As for birthdays .. for me they will always be hard to deal with and a lot of pressure for just one day. I do enjoy my birthday but on my terms and I tend to plan an outing or a trip so I’m doing something for the day and it’s almost a distraction from feeling like you have to play host as whoever you may be with will be busy enjoying the day with you too and it lets the activity take the heat of how to enjoy the day rather than it coming from you. There’s a lot of pressure to be happy and enjoy birthdays and it can be exhausting so I can imagine having it in lockdown that pressure will have felt even more so than any other year.