Is my son lazy?

For issues specific to autism / Asperger Syndrome.
As many of you know, my son with autism and learning difficulties is employed by a butcher. He has been told by colleagues that he is lazy because he is slow at his work and because he doesn't do as he is told, i.e. he doesn't hurry up when told to do so. He tries to go fast at his work, but just gets flustered and slows up.

He has recently been given the jobs of cleaning the walk-in fridge and under the sink, which he finds overwhelming, especially the walk-in fridge as he is expected to finish cleaning it in an hour. He complains that it keeps him back from his work, which to him obviously doesn't include cleaning jobs.

M isn't very keen on a lot of physical work and I don't know if this is because he is just lazy or if it's part and parcel of his autism. He does as little as he can get away with at home and likes to decide himself what he will do. For example, he takes nothing to do with washing or drying dishes on week days as he works long hours, but at the weekend will do one lot of dishes per day as in will either wash or dry one lot of dishes per day, not per meal and if he helps, for example with cooking, he won't have anything to do with dishes. On Sunday he showed a willingness to help with cooking dinner and opted to scrub potatoes and put them on to boil, which he did, but then wanted me to take over from there, but I said I would like him to take responsibility for looking after them, as in watching for them boiling and then turning them to a simmer and timing them for whatever length of time they needed to boil for. He does like closing the blinds in the kitchen and closing the garage door at night and vice versa in the mornings and gets very cross if anyone else does this job.

Another problem - his boss has asked him why he keeps telling me what happens at work as it 'has nothing to do with' me and M points out that I am his carer. The response from his boss is that he is M's carer. Does anyone else have this problem of not being allowed to care about their care-ee and what happens to them in the course of a day?

Boss doesn't understand what "carer" means, like so many others.

My son has SLD, really doesn't like working by himself, but if a group are doing something, he can be a very good member of the team.

I suspect your son doesn't like being in the big fridge, I worked in a supermarket in outback Australia for a few months, lots of stuff had to be refrigerated due to the heat, but I really didn't like being in the fridge, or even worse, the freezer. I know that I hate confined spaces, maybe your son does too?
Hi Gilli,
Brief answer because S is about to reappear.

Firstly he is probably slow at work because he has a LD and autism and that affects his processing time. He has to concentrate harder to carry out simple tasks.

Cleaning out the big fridge sounds a lonely task and he probably sees little point in it. Most people talk about problems at work with their family/ partner / friends, that's normal.

Re chores such as washing up, this sounds very typical of a lot of young men living at home.
Can he prepare simple snacks such as a sandwich, baked beans and cheese on toast etc?

Hi Gilli
Autism UK has good employer advice. The following link could be given to son's boss. It also has other good links to the AUK employment service and more

Hope it helps
Oh, it might also be worth checking out if he has any sensory issues with the cleaning work. My autistic relative cannot bear being near any cleaning fluids, so he's excused washing up, but not drying up
My son with LD has his own flat, which is immaculate, but when he's home, he behaves differently. He will lay the table and help put away afterwards, as the dishwasher is behind his chair. He will vacuum anywhere, with either the Dyson or a small vacuum for the stairs, and he'll mow the lawn with his tractor, or bring the logs up for the fire. These he sees as "his" jobs, we always say he's "Chief in Charge" of them (note the theme of there usually being an engine or motor involved!), but otherwise, he lets me get on with it.
Maybe it's time your son went to a college or similar, as M did, so he discovers that some things have to be done, regardless of whether you like it or not?! Otherwise, how is he going to progress? How will he manage when you are not around any more. You staying home will probably make him even more clingy.
I have three boys with autism/Asperger/OBD/ADHD and many other issues. I can only tell you my own experience. One of mine will empty a washing machine of clothes, ours, put one t shirt in. Wash it, take it out and walk away. Won't then re load the machine with our clothes. Walks away. I feel my middle son is lazy but truth is he needs directing. Clear request. Youngest misunderstands easily. As do I. Also I think time issues. No real sense of time or urgency. For me labelled directions, written form. Notice reminders help.E.g Remember to wash hands! By sink in toilet etc. Constantly seen goes in.Sensory overload maybe an issue. Did he choose the job? Does he like it? Communication misunderstandings happen often.JC
The employer claiming they are your son's carer sets a dangerous precedent. Not least by confusing him (you mentioned LD) but forgive me even suggesting this but what if there was some sort of incident? He has no right making that claim whatsoever.

I understand it can be horrible trying to find decent work if on the spectrum just by the stigma of disclosure (nevermind how much it affects the person day to day) but I would raise some serious concerns, assuming the place of employment was aware of your son's health, whether they are properly trying to accomodate him in the workplace (i understand a smaller employer would have a bit more wiggle room)

Like how the "boss" gets so defensive about your son talking about the work day with you.. like its any of his damned business! Comes off as someone with control issues

p.s. on a side note regarding the fridge maybe the sensory stimulae is making it difficult to work
(small metal room, weird smells, heavy door, cold/damp air etc)
Hi All,

I don't have time to respond to all your comments in one post, so will just take one reply at a time.

BB, I don't know what M's employer meant by his 'carer' comment. Quite possibly he was joking. Maybe I should just have told M to point out that I am his mother and that it's normal to talk to your mother about your day.

M doesn't like working in the fridge because it's a big job. He also would like if the other employees could take turns at working in there, but they do things that he is not qualified to do. His employer insists that it should only take him 30 minutes to clean the fridge, but at M's pace it takes longer.

Just a thought, but if the fridge is very cold, there may possibly be health and safety issues for anyone being inside it for a period considered 'unsafe' - ie, if your son takes longer than 30 minutes?

Might be worth checking out?

Cold does slow us down anyway, it's just a physiological effect of the low temperature, irrespective of anything else.