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How Do I Parent an Adult Child with Aspergers?


My 20-year-old child has Aspergers. He is intelligent and is doing well in college -- but is lonely. He has met a woman online who wants him to move to Texas, and I fear for his safety. He is obsessed with moving and believes that "friends" are waiting for him. How can I help him see that he may be headed for trouble?


In cases like this, it seems like experience is the best teacher. I can see both sides: that of the mother convinced her youngster is making a potentially fatal mistake and wanting to do anything to prevent it; and of the young adult who has experienced nothing but loneliness and rejection all his life and who finally believes he has a chance to make it on his own and find both friendship and love. He is not likely to be persuaded from his dreams, and you may damage your relationship with him if you push too hard.

Could you ask him more questions about the relationship? How long ago did he meet her, what are her interests, what is the thing he most loves about her, what are his plans for once he gets to California, what is his idea of an ideal relationship....subtle questions if possible to gauge how much he really even knows about her and how serious he is, and what a relationship really means to him. If it sounds serious and valid, you can be relieved; if not, you can hopefully subtly push him in the right direction. The other thing you can do is let him go, but try to get him to promise you that he will call X amount of times per day, get as much contact info as you can - her phone number and address, his itinerary, etc.

I do think that if he could just have some social success, maybe he wouldn't be so bent on chasing this lady to the other coast. And meeting other people on the spectrum through support groups could give him that. But he may or may not be interested in learning about Aspergers and meeting other people with it.

I wish I could offer you something decisive to do. If he does go, just try to prepare him for the possibility that it might not quite work out the way he thinks it will. Tell him that relationships take time and don't always work out; the most important thing you can do, actually, is not to antagonize him so that he is not too embarrassed to come home if things fall apart. Make clear to him that you love him and will support him no matter what he does, and that you will help him in any way you can and that he always has a home to come back to. Hopefully, he will spread his wings a little and keep the lines of communication open with you. Get him a cell phone if he doesn't already have one.

Launching Adult Children With Aspergers: How To Promote Self-Reliance


Anonymous said...

Yes be concerned, maybe you should offer to go with him to meet her and not let him go alone if you can, suggest that they meet and work on it long distance for awhile, best for aspergers anyway, due to emotional detatchment issues, and what part of Tx,
I am here, in Abilene. I may able to help more if need be.

Anonymous said...

I live in Abilene, Texas! I am 17! I am diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome!

Anonymous said...

Invite her to come meet you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. It is dangerous.

Anonymous said...

That is the problem, we try not to push, sit back and then something bad happens, of course we will be there for them, but why do we have to keep playing this game of Russian roulette with their lives?

Carrie said...

Meet her first. Have her come see you. Talk to her on the phone. Do SOMETHING to be involved. What part of Texas? I'm in San Antonio and I am an adult w/ Aspergers. If he comes here, I'm very willing to get to know him and do what I can to help.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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