Struggles with 18-year old ASD son

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Silas
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12 Nov 2021, 10:27 am

Sweetleaf wrote:
Does he even want to go to college?

Maybe it would be better for him to look into getting a part time job, and learning some work skills. I think I would have been way better off in my life if I had done that after graduating HS, than wasting my time with college.

If he did well at a part time job that could also help him with confidence more so then grueling school work he's not even interested in and constantly getting bad grades because he can't motivate himself at all. Or maybe he could try volunteering in something he's interested in.

Idk just kind of seems like you want him to be in college a lot more than he wants to be, and in my opinion its causing you extra stress because you have to basically do college for him from the sound of it. So idk maybe it is time to talk to him about other options than college...as it may not be a realistic goal for him.


I think he does want to go to college. He has expressed interest in one of his classes and wants to do study-abroad (Germany or maybe Costa Rica).

Nevertheless, this first semester has been very hard. His math teacher piles on tons of work, and that is my son's weakest area. I am just trying to get him through the first semester. But I do hear what you are saying about basically doing college for him--it feels like that sometimes.

All of his stress and problems become my problems. He had a math exam this morning and couldn't find his prescription sunglasses in order to drive--so I am turning the house upside down looking for them, when I should have been at work. Meanwhile, I am yelling at him, which makes me feel like a crappy dad.

We are a relatively well-off family. I cannot even imagine what it would be like trying to deal with two kids on the spectrum with minimal financial resources and with both parents working. I am completely overwhelmed at times, even though we put in years of ABA therapy (much of which I had to pay for completely, as insurance didn't cover it), therapists, medications (anxiety), etc. It has taken a toll on my mental health as well--and I am likely on the spectrum myself, with mild ASD or something like it.

My biggest fear is my son dropping out and being unemployable.



SharonB
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12 Nov 2021, 10:50 pm

Finding a supportive academic advisor or teacher would be good. (I wish I had done more of that at my workplace the past decades.)

Just b/c a person doesn't get on the fast track, they can still do very well. I have ASD-like colleagues who were able to get on the fast track and are now big in the tech industry. I floundered and although I am not big like them, I have done well for myself and my family. In some ways, maybe better. Who's to say?

As (an ASD) primary caretaker of two young children and primary financial provider, I get overwhelmed many times a day. As I seek ways to regulate my emotions, I am honest with them about it and make repairs often. I would rather they understand and are frustrated by my overreactions than confused or ashamed with themselves. Of course the ideal is less outbursts on my part, but life is not ideal. Kids will give us credit for the effort we make to recover from and repair our mistakes. So the yelling knocks you down, but the repairs bring you up. My ASD daughter just ranked me as an 8 on the parenting scale (of 10). My calmer NT husband gets 7½. It's not all about the disregulated moments, there's far more to it. Hang in there!! !



kraftiekortie
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13 Nov 2021, 2:59 pm

I’m not saying that he should or will flunk out…..but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he did. The problem would be if he decided college wasn’t for him. The vocational education system in the US leaves a lot to be desired.

One of my nephews flunked completely out of college (I don’t believe he’s on the Spectrum, though he’s a computer whiz). Then he went back about six months later to a different college, and it was relatively smooth sailing till he got his degree at 23. He didn’t graduate with honors, but he did graduate.



Aspinator
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13 Nov 2021, 3:05 pm

I feel you are not addressing the elephant in the room. Right now you are his support system. What will become of him once you are gone?



debianator
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26 Nov 2021, 12:14 pm

My son is in the same position in life. I did spend many hours with ABA and skill building services but non of it stuck.



Rotter
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15 Dec 2021, 1:12 pm

Silas wrote:
poor planning

Instead of criticizing his poor planning, practice planning with him, and do things to help him improve his planning skills. For example, I know of a father who did it very wrong (NOT YOU, this is only an example) -- he frequently criticized his son's lack of planning skills, but actually the father should be blamed rather than the son, because this father NEVER practiced planning skills with his son. He only criticized, and never tried to help his son LEARN how to plan. Please note, I'm not describing you. Just a relevant example.

Silas wrote:
aside from one friend he occasionally sees, he has zero social life.

Ask him if he'd like to join a club that focuses on something that is already one of his favorite interests. For example, if his favorite interest is model trains, then ask him if he'd like to join a model train club, including in-person activities, not only online.

Silas wrote:
Takes a long time to complete assignments in school (zones out), and we have to stay on him relentlessly.

Is that really his fault alone? Many schools force students to complete boring assignments on useless topics. Teachers often ignore the most important subjects in life. Necessary life-skills are often ignored or deprioritized in schools in favor of unhelpful obscure academic topics.

Some old-style teachers even believe it's perfectly acceptable and "normal" to use low-level forms of psychological violence to force students to learn "for their own good". This is harmful for students, and it kills their motivation to learn.

Silas wrote:
Narrow focus of interest(s)

So what? That's not a bad thing. That's just a difference between your personality and his personality.

Silas wrote:
he has zero interest in sports or athletics of any kind.

So what? More likely, he does have an interest in sports, but not the particular sports you're interested in. You also mentioned he likes hiking. Hiking counts as a sport. In your opinion, hiking isn't a sport, but this is merely a difference of opinion, not a reason to fight him.

Silas wrote:
I get him to play tennis, but he barely tries, and doesn't care.

So what? There's nothing wrong with disliking tennis. I hate tennis. I hate it so much. But you like it, and that's totally fine. I can respect your opinion about tennis, and you can respect your son's opinion about tennis, although the opinions are different. No reason to fight about it.

Silas wrote:
I try to get him involved with the church group, but he has no interest in religion

So what? This is the same as the tennis issue. There's nothing wrong with your son's disinterest in tennis, religion, etc. People are allowed to have different personalities and different opinions. A son is not sick just because he dislikes tennis.

Silas wrote:
He likes film, anthropology and cultural studies, and a few other academic things, but that doesn't lead to meeting people.

Actually these topics CAN lead to meeting people, but I understand you might have the bad luck of not having particular clubs or events in your particular town/city. Sometimes it's pot luck.

Silas wrote:
So I am dealing with a kid with virtually no interests

No interests at all, or no interests that you're willing to accept as valid interests? On one hand, your message says "no interests", but on the other hand, you explicitly mentioned some of his interests -- you wrote "He likes film, anthropology and cultural studies, and a few other academic things", and "He has the following interests: hiking & nature, anthropology, culture, linguistics (to some degree), history, and dogs. He also likes cinema."

Those are interests. He has plenty of interests.

Do you want an honest answer, or a "polite" answer? It sounds like the majority of your complaints could be merely complaints about the difference between his personality and your personality, but these differences aren't true problems and don't need to be fixed. However, you did also mention poor planning skills, which is a real problem to fix. Mutual practice/teaching is helpful for improving planning skills.

There is a big difference between saying "I believe discrimination is bad" versus actually not discriminating against people. Nearly everyone engages in discrimination, at least to some degree, despite being convinced that discrimination is wrong. This includes myself, but at least I'm trying to limit it, whereas many people don't even try.

Silas wrote:
I hate to use this analogy, but it is like dealing with a drug addict or someone with alzheimers. He will forget to put on clean clothes, leave his textbook in the classroom at the college, forget to do assignments (or even check), print out a paper the wrong way, resulting in blank sheets, and then put it into his folder without even noticing.

Could you be criticizing someone who suffers from depression, instead of helping him heal his depression? What's the cause of the depression?

Silas wrote:
The list goes on and on, and it requires constant attention from me to keep him on track.

Are you sure the "constant attention to keep him on track" isn't causing more harm than good?

Silas wrote:
my youngest son is also on the spectrum ... and he doesn't have any of these issues

Please note, I'm not talking about you. I don't know your details. I'm just talking about parents in general, not you. It's common for parents to favor one child over the other. This favoritism is detrimental to the child or children who feel unfavored and unloved.

Parents often give their child 100% of the blame, but in reality, the parents and the child share 50/50 responsibility. I'm a father. Whenever I blame my child, I should also blame myself for half of it, and then we should work together to solve OUR PROBLEM, NOT HIS PROBLEM.

That's the key. A child's problems are NOT his problems. They're OUR problems -- parent and child are BOTH responsible for solving it. Same deal in a marriage: When a husband and wife argue/fight with each other, they are BOTH to be blamed; it's both their fault, and they're both responsible for fixing it together. Putting 100% of the blame on the other partner is detrimental. Likewise putting 100% of the blame on a child is detrimental.

It's also important to recognize when problems aren't really problems at all, rather they're differences of opinion/personality. Nobody is sick just because he dislikes tennis.

It's also important to recognize that ALL humans have illnesses of some kind or to some degree. Nobody is an exception to this. It's biologically impossible to be 100% healthy in both body and mind. So, a child is not 100% healthy, but neither are the parents. Any parent anywhere who thinks he or she is 100% healthy is not acknowledging the real world. We all have problems. That's the nature of humans.



Sillybrain
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12 Jan 2022, 4:45 am

He doesn't get to pick or choose his own interests, but finding stuff around his special interests can definately help with socialising and executive dysfunction.

You can use *his* special interests as a starting point and branch out from there.

From hiking, you can go into bare-footing, bush racing, trail blaising, and look for groups in and around there.

He loves cinema? Do a prop making it movie makeup course with him, if he is into fantasy shows, he could follow it up with learning how to make movie monsters, chainmail and latex boffers, and get into something like larp or medieval rattan fighting. He might hit it off at prop making or movie monster studios with people there of he gets really into it with them.

Always use those special interests as a initial starting point.

If he is very smart at a subject, he might consequently be doing very bad in it. see if something can't be worked out to have grades based on testing. He doesn't have a disability to *learning*, he has a disability to how *all of you people* decide grades representing learning should be tracked, instead of actually just checking if things are learned via tests and basing grades on that.

ADD can coincide with autism. The prof might be talking too slowly and poorly. I've heard about success for ADD with recording the voice and playing it back at a faster speed later.

Post secondary degrees also aren't so valuable these days. There was a huge generational push into secondary education, the job market is overly saturated with kids with degrees instead of practical experience, so unless he needs it for something very specific he wants to do, a degree might not be a good thing.

If your son was meant to be a masterful prop maker, making Thor's mjolnirs, creating Ridley Scott's aliens, or Evil Dead chainsaw hands, than what is the point of the degree, other than to bust him down teaching him he can't succeed on his own in an education that doesn't know how to handle teaching anyone that is an automatically, already easy student?