worried mum

My son is undiagnosed. His wife kicked him out after 14 yrs. he's nearly 38. Has moved in with me after 12+ yrs of no contact and is claiming carers allowance as I am disabled. He barely sleeps, and spends most of his time playing online games which is taking all of his money. He is behind on his phone bill and credit card. I have tried talking to him about it but I cant get through to him. I only ask for £20 per week from him but he doesn't pay regularly. I have explained to him the importance of switching off electrical items at night to keep the bills down but he stays up all night and my bills are going through the roof. He tells me he has slept but then falls asleep as soon as he's watching tv but denies it if you call him on it, I caught him yesterday asleep in front of his computer and it took 3 attempts to get him to go to bed. He is very insular with no friends. I have 4 grandsons with aspergers and I fought for many years when my son was small because I knew that something wasn't right but back then they didn't know much and just told me I was neurotic. If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it.

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  • I have found this charity very helpful. actionforaspergers.org/

    there is also the National autism society autism.org.uk/

    I think both have helplines you could try - good luck

  • Thanks will look into them. He's been up all night again and is asleep now.

  • hi Vizzio.

    It sounds like you have got your hands full at the moment.

    I hope that having a 'blurt' like that has been helpful for you. You certainly have given a lot of information in a clear way.

    You've asked for advice but I'm not sure what i'm going to say is what you might expect (especially on this forum) but it is what I feel to say.

    I'm sure you love your son - and grandsons - and want what's best for them all. (Incidentally you don't say if your grandsons are via this son and wife; if so, I wonder what the situation is re care/custody? That could be another major stressor. Also you don't say why your son's wife threw him out, but maybe she had had enough of some of the behaviours that you are now struggling with too? I wonder how you and she get on and whether there is any mileage in you 'joining forces' to resolve issues?).

    There are lots of people who have diagnoses and lots who do not. For the record, I have some myself.

    Sometimes diagnoses can help with understanding how certain people process and understand. This can then help explain why people tend to feel certain things or want to act in certain ways.

    But diagnoses are not excuses for bad manners, not being able to face up to responsibilities like parenthood or paying one's fair share etc.

    Good manners, doing one's best in situations where we get ourselves (even if we might not have planned them ahead) and sharing in a way that doesn't disadvantage others are what decent folk do.

    And obviously there are plenty of people out there who would NEVER get a diagnosis who don't do all that too.

    I'm not in a position to say whether your son is doing that or not, but it sounds like you feel exasperated at how he is treating you/ your home - especially when you say that you are disabled and that he gave no contact for years before moving in with you.

    It may be hard for you to face, but when you say you've 'tried talking to him but can't get through' that maybe you have done all you can re talking to him.

    Maybe you need to ACT too.

    I am a person-centred counsellor and supervisor.

    Sometimes I have friends/relatives/employers/employees of someone who asks if I can help their partner/boss/employee/parent/child/friend 'who has a problem'.

    I have to tell them what I also have to tell those counsellors I supervise: there is no way you can counsel someone just because their partner/boss/employee/parent/child/friend wants them to have counselling.

    Apart from it not being ethical, how is it going to work if someone doesn't want to be there?

    Unless the client themselves wants to have counselling, they are not going to be helped by it and won't feel inclined to take such steps which translate to 'change'.

    But that doesn't mean you can't suggest that e.g. someone get some help such as seeing a counsellor.

    Only you probably need to go about it so that the person concerned doesn't see it as something they are doing for someone else, but that they are doing it for themselves.

    Especially if they don't accept that they have a problem.

    People are like that.

    Especially people who are so wrapped up in themselves that they don't see how their behaviour might affect others.

    And that is often the case with Aspergic people - but then it is also often the case with people generally (although some might feel males, or those whose background gives them a feeling of entitlement may be more so).

    it is also very often the case with those who are dependent on something i.e. are addicted.

    And at least one thing that you mention about your son and his gaming translates to me as 'addiction'.

    Addiction is a word that a lot of people struggle with - not least those of whom others think are addicted!

    In the Western world we are very 'good' at doing/being 'addiction' - not just the booze, cigs, gambling that are all socially sanctioned/licensed to some extent (even if there is a slight recognition that some people are choosing to do less now), but the addiction to consumerism and oil which is actually destroying the communities and resources of our finite planet.

    We are all addicts. Even those who seem to live 'clean' lives are addicted to jobs, status, new cars, furniture etc.

    For example, I might say I'm addicted to my computer email etc. It does help me in my work roles but i probably spend too long doing it when i could do other productive things like grow tomatoes etc. which gets me stretching my body outside in the sun, rather than hunched over an electronic device inside a concrete box.

    I'm not someone that plays games all day because I don't think it is a good idea - in the same way as i don't think it is a good idea to drink very much etc. - and also because I acknowledge that I would probably want to spend a lot of time getting better at games if i did start to play....

    Again, it is quite natural to want to improve, but it is probably easier for many people to consider they will improve in a game than improve in their personal relationships etc.

    If someone has an addiction, what I said above about them needing to want to get help themselves also applies - although probably twice as much.

    Very often addicts need to 'hit rock bottom' before they acknowledge that their behaviour is out of control and needs to change.

    Believe me, 'rock bottom' can be very low indeed.

    Sometimes it might mean actions leading to everyone you love saying 'I will not accept any more of this.' Some people know this as 'tough love.'

    I'd like to think that there are person-centred counsellors in your area who would be able to embrace your son's being and situation, and help him reflect on where he is in it all and what he might do as a result (something incidentally that could take many years).

    Unless he is prepared to seek one out though, it doesn't matter how successful at being empathic, accepting or real those counsellors are with other clients (which is, after all, all WE can 'do').

    Also 'The 12 steps' is a programme which, though it isn't everyone's 'cup of tea', has saved countless marriages/lives and is free. I don't know a town that doesn't have a group. They are anonymous and confidential. They are supportive - but you have to go along to try it out.

    You can go because you acknowledge you have a problem (whether drink, gambling, sex, co-dependency etc.) or because you have a problem with someone else's problem!

    Can you use the internet to look up what groups meet when near you?

    There are also online support groups for people who are beginning to acknowledge they are addicted to gambling, gaming etc. and that mirror the remoteness that some people are used to when playing in such ways.

    Most research/ anecdotes i'm aware of do suggest that it is human contact that makes the most difference though.

    I can't help your son when he hasn't said he wants help.

    You have the power to invest in YOUR OWN support though.

    Again, it is up to you to choose to.

    Good wishes

    keep in touch if it helps

  • I have found that tough love is required with my son whenever he has drifted off into a world of gaming or insomnia. I think self preservation is a priority. If he isn't considering your needs at all then you have to.

    Could you perhaps write him a very clear letter setting out rules of the house and spelling out your needs and concerns - in bullet point format? Perhaps you could give him a link to the support groups FriendlyLion mentions and tell him you believe he is addicted to gaming and he needs help addressing this. If he leaves or is confrontational as a response then you may have to get in outside help - especially if you have a disability yourself.

    I do know how hard this is as a parent of a son with Asperger's who is prone to unhealthy eating and who used to stay up all night on computer gaming. Fortunately this was addressed when he was younger but he is still very difficult and needs careful handling - even at a distance. If he came home to live with us again I have am under no illusion about how difficult we would find this.

    Take care and good luck. Twitchy

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