16 year old CAHMS querying autism

For issues specific to autism / Asperger Syndrome.
Hi

I was hoping to get some advice on my 16 year old.

His teenage years have been quite challenging and i have been aware that his behaviour and habits have become quite different to that of his peers. He was always a very sociable child, with a wide circle of friends, participated in sport, enjoyed parties/ sleepovers etc... when he hit 13 he started to withdraw, became more angry and very awkward to deal with day to day.

When he first went to comp he remained social in the first year, went to the odd party, shopping in town with freinds, cinema but by the second year that all stopped and he doesnt stay in contact with school friends hardly at all now out of school.

Over the last 6 months he has developed severe social anxiety and now i struggle to get him to leave the house. He uses online gaming as an escape and has a few online freinds that he has regular contact with and has met up with on a few occassions now, but no real actual friends.

GP referred to Cahms as his anxiety has led to poor sleep, which led him to ask for help from GP. He recognises his anxiety but wont talk to me about it.

We had his initial cahms assessment this week and therapist thinks he has high funcioning autism - which for alot if reasons would make sense . My son refutes this and has declined the therapy to help his anxiety and refuses any attempt at a diagnosis, because he is 16 - i apparrantly have no say in this?? I am now stuck as a single mum with a 16 year old that wont leave the house, wont engage with me, cant sleep at night so sleeps all day but cahms say they cant help if he doesnt want it - does anyone else have any similar experiences of autism only becoming apparent at this age? and what do i do if he wont engage? I cant leave him as he is, im scared for his future...
Hi Purple,
sorry I must have missed your post before.

He is properly in shock, he went to the GP because he wasn't sleeping, had a referral and they said he most likely had autism!! No wonder he is in denial.

Its going to take time for him to get his head round this and to be honest, unless he is willing to learn about his condition and how to deal with it, the diagnosis wont help him anyway. On the other hand, the more you learn about it, the more you will be able to put strategies in place to support him, The National Autistic Society is a good place to start. https://www.autism.org.uk/about/diagnosis/adults.aspx
They also have a magazine, you could print off a copy or make sure it is emailed to your son each month, hopefully he might be curious and take a peek https://www.autism.org.uk/about/adult-l ... tions.aspx

Your local area might have an Autism Team who can support your son's school to meet his needs and support his return to school.

Melly1
Hello Purple,

I know it seems bad, but it could be taken as an encouraging sign also that your son is being so pro-active about seeking help for dealing with anxiety, because dealing with this problem might open the door to your son having the confidence to actually confront other problems associated with ASD which can arise.

Don't take it the wrong way that he feels more comfortable in taking his problems to a doctor, we have such strong value on those we care about, and do not want to be seen as "different" by them or feel like we are burdening them.
(I know as a parent you don't feel this way at all and just want to help)

If it helps, I was diagnosed with Aspergers as an adult, having gone under the radar in childhood due to circumstances at home(former young-carer).
By 18 I had finished education and was juggling care, employment and starting my own business,
While I am still pretty much a big kid at heart I had to grow up pretty quickly then, and honestly would not had reacted any different from your son at that age. My life has changed alot because of the caring situation but I'm not fighting myself when it comes to self-identity anymore and just accept it.
People I deal with (3 caree's, so alot) are none the wiser.

Your son sounds like a bright, self aware young man, again I really think it is a positive that he acknowledges the anxiety, because I've lived with that, its something that does not really go away. The social stuff is a big part of it, even if he refuses the diagnosis he could develop healthier techniques of dealing with the stress/anxiety associated with ASD (usually the extra work we undertake to "fit in")

Best wishes
Hi, very similar situation to yours with diagnosis of my son at 17. The signs were always there, he had obsessive interests but I put his social awkwardness down to shyness and his occasional outbursts down to stress. He always had a couple of good friends but although he wants to be popular he “doesn't like people".

After getting lower than expected GCSE results he suffered massive depression fell in with a bad group and started smoking cannabis, which just made everything worse. He hated us with a passion and was often hurtful. We paid for counselling, at this point I was starting to wonder about autism and they also flagged adhd (I had queried with primary school about this but because it was attention deficit rather than hyperactivity, his behaviour was "good" they said no). Finally CAMHS confirmed high functioning autism, mild ADHD, depression and anxiety.

My son, luckily, was very engaged & fascinated by the whole counselling process and has done really well. From seeing himself on the scrap heap with bad results he is now the star Distincton student at college as he's funnelled his obsession in a positive direction ( with the help of ADHD medication)

At school the kids use the term special as a derogitive term but we choose to look at it in a different way. I strongly believe that anyone who is brilliant will be on the spectrum somewhere, it's what gives them that focus to do such wonderful things. So for a tech obsessed boy, the people who have made his passions possible. Bill Gates (Microsoft) Steve Jobs (Apple) Mark Zuckerberg(Facebook). It is difficult to know where introvert ends and autism begins because being exhausted by social interaction is a symptom of both.

I'm not saying a diagnosis is the cure but it helps massively in dealing with it - he still has a meltdown when stressed but counselling has helped him control it quicker. He knows not to get hungry, tired, be careful if he feels under the weather..... We still argue about cannibis, he has two friends one of whom I am sure is also on the spectrum and has found someone he works well with at college.

Son no 2 has just left school, still waiting for CAMHS hasn't spoken to friends or left his room since and spends all his time on YouTube and xbox (where like your son he has a couple of friends) I have to be honest the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree both I and my husband are possibly on the spectrum somewhere and struggle socially.

I think it's a good idea to tell school/college but your son doesn't need to tell anyone else if he doesn't want to. I think high functioning autistic people naturally gravitate towards interesting people with the same traits and, as I point out to my son, the only difference between him and them is he has the diagnosis
Really great post,

As far as I recall, though it would not hurt to check this more formally, legally speaking he should only be required to notify the DVLA of diagnosis, and even then only if it were thought it might impact on the ability/performance of driving itself.

In most other cases its voluntary as disclosure is very much a double edged sword.
It really depends on the level of support needs a person has, someone that is very independent should be encouraged to decide how they want to handle it, where as a person needing much assistance just to get through each day, it is probably in their interests to speak with a disability adviser on campus in confidence, to ascertain their polices in making reasonable adjustments and such.

I don't think your son dislikes people, its just the huge energy outlay in trying to deal with them. It is utterly exhausting.

We do have aspirations to be close to people (or some) and have friends and do all of the "normal" stuff, but the toolbox we're using is very much square peg/round peg hole.. and it can take a kind/special person to identify this yet still be interested to stick around.

If you consider the spoon theory (I find these sorts of concepts/observations fascinating) and apply it on a mental/emotional scale, its like saying "I do want to give you a hug, but I have used all of my spoons just to get through today, and want to shut down/rest for a while"

If that makes sense.