Conflict in the family over vaccination

Well, there's already quite a bit of distress and conflict within our family, but the subject of vaccination is set to worsen things.  And I'm not sure how to manage this or even if that'd be advisable or possible.  We're all adults, after all.

That said, one adult son is fully vaccinated and the other (in a chronic "hikiomori" state) isn't, nor is he intending to be.  This makes our older son angry, to the extent he feels that our younger son is a threat to our wellbeing, if not our very lives.  He couches it in terms that are likely to feed into his anger and has also threatened to start destroying our younger son's IT stuff if he doesn't get vaccinated, plus is putting pressure on us to persuade him to get vaccinated asap.  The fact is that we have no power over our younger son and he's making an autonomous decision not to get vaccinated, although, given that he won't engage with anyone, this might not be because he has views about vaccination but rather that he seeks to avoid all contact.  

I'm worried.  The situation seems set to explode and, much as I try to talk things through and defuse the situation, it keeps welling up again.  I'm also feeling resentful at the consequences of their adult decisions being put onto us as parents, in addition to the pressure of various mental health issues, our very late diagnoses and not having anywhere to turn.  

Has anyone successfully negotiated this kind of situation, am I doomed to just wait for things to explode and how can I deal with my own mounting anxiety about my sons? 

  • hikiomori Almost by definition never go outside. So the real risk to the rest of the family is quite low. That said does your GP know about your sons extreme seclusion? If the only reason he won’t get vaccinated is the journey it might be posable to persuade a GP to make a home visit. At which point his GP could discuss his issues with him (eg extreme agoraphobia?)

  • +1 for home visit vacination - make sure it's via your GP. There are some scammers about.

    Has the younger son explained why he doesn't want to be vaccinated?

Reply Children
  • I offered to persuade the GP a couple of weeks ago but my son still just said no.  There may week be other reasons but I think it's simply in line with his refusal of everything.  He will barely speak to me either - it feels as though I get "timed out"after just a few words and he rushes away, back to his room, as if scared of any interaction at all.  Under these circumstances it's hard to know what his reasons really are.  

    Older son is scarily angry though.  :(

  • Is the GP able to offer any help for your older son? If he is scaring you  it sounds like he needs some kind of explanation about all the stats around Covid etc Are the rest of you all double vaccinated? If so your youngest son is more of a danger to himself. Is someone professional able to explain to him to calm him down? The media have also painted such a dire picture about what is going on in hospitals as well it has unnecessarily terrified a lot of people. As well as the high cases at the moment, we’ve had people phone us to shout about how dare we offer hospital appointments at this time even though we had less than 20 inpatients with Covid in the entire place (there were about 200 in January)

  • Yes, we're all double jabbed but we all have other health issues and my older son is looking at the figures about new variants and situations where even vaccinated people have died.  I can certainly gather data to use in our discussions and put things into perspective, but he is very much of the opinion that it's our younger son who needs to take action to protect us all. 

    Mind you, I think his anger has grown in frustration about his brother's almost total withdrawal and hikikomori state.  This has provided the soil on which the whole vaccination problem has grown. 

  • Oh gosh that sounds difficult if it’s been growing for a while. Does he know why he’s upset but your younger son’s withdrawal? Hope you manage to find some help, have you spoken to the GP about the situation at all? They may be able to refer to a mental health team or similar to come and talk to both of them 

  • Yes.  He knows.  He firstly feels as though he's lost his brother so there is a kind of grief process going on.  He also feels, though, that his brother could actually be doing more than he's doing, instead of fleeing us all, hiding in his room and blanking us when we're in the same space around the home.  He's also angry that he's no longer engaging with services, even though services were a nightmare, not at all autism aware, let alone autism friendly, and basically only put him through a one-size-fits-all MH approach (meds and unadapted talking therapy).   Plus then there are the hygiene issues that affect the rest of the family due to the smell and also a huge sense of shame that our son is going out to the shop in that state. 

    I personally don't want to go back to local mental health teams because they don't even have a basic level of autism training.  A few years ago, at the end of around 3 1/2 years with local crisis teams and MH services, they simply said that the meds and therapy weren't working because my son has Asperger's and not a MH problem, put us in touch with the autism team for an assessment and discharged us.  Our son, then completely fed up with services, refused to see the assessment team and so this is when I got myself referred for an assessment, to see what was going on in our family.  Our older son was diagnosed shortly afterwards, although we paid privately for this because the wait for my own assessment had been ridiculous.  And now he's also very angry about his own late diagnosis and the fact that he never got any help at school because, although he was struggling, he was academically able. 

    I have talked to our GP about it and she basically said, "Yes, that must be hard" but can't offer anything other than noting that I'm a carer on my medical records.  Local autism charities and support groups haven't been able to offer any guidance on this either.  Lots of empathy, but nothing on what on earth to do. 

    To be honest, I'm quite angry too. 

  • That’s so awful, you would think in this day and age mental health teams would have some autism specialists. I know what you mean about the blanket meds and talking therapy. The last lady my husbandConfoundedaw (well on the phone because of Covid) was so useless she told him he wasn’t allowed to talk about work even though that was his main source of stress. Now suddenly clicked with me over the weekendConfoundedhilst scrolling Instagram that he has ADHD which needs medicating and a couple of his friends of around 10 years who have worked in mental health residential settings for teens and young adults have said “oh you didn’t know? we thought you must’ve been diagnosed as a kid” But years of seeing doctors and counsellor type people and he just gets given fluoxetine Confounded

  • Sorry I do know why it’s replaced some letters with emojis!

  • Yes, my older son is now taking ADHD meds, which have helped a lot in terms of his focus.  The consultant did mention to watch out for any increase in ager too, but our son was already very angry at that point and we've not noticed any increase.  

    Unfortunately services don't seem to do proper individually tailored formulations or look for autism of ADHD, so I suspect a lot of people are being missed.  And our local mental health services are only now being given a half day's training on autism.  I know this because it came up at one of the carers' meetings I attended, in which a representative from the NHS asked for our thoughts on their training!  

    I've seen a number of counsellors and psychotherapists over the years too plus also taken a lot of counselling training myself and at no point was autism, ADHD or neurodiversity once mentioned.  So their lack of knowledge doesn't surprise me.

    To me it's not much better than the 1970s, when my dad was in severe autistic burnout for years and was simply given massive, horse tranquiliser-size vallium tablets!  They didn't help but he was no bother to services whilst in the resulting zombie state!