I know he's 23 but...(30 Posts)
My son worries me. He hasn't got many friends so when he gets invited out by work or uni friends he drops everything to go. Of course I have no issue with that. But he never comes home when the rest of them all leave to go home. Instead he wanders about trying to hook up with strangers and has even asked and stayed overnight at strangers houses. When he lived away from home he would drink a lot on nights out. So much so that he'd end up in hospital with alcohol poisoning. None of his so called "friends" made sure he was OK, instead they left him lying in the street till an ambulance picked him up. I'm so concerned with his destructive behaviour. I've tried to explain to him that what he's doing is dangerous and affects our family. He really doesn't care, he just wants to have "fun"! Am I really being unreasonable?
It doesn't really matter how autistic he is
It's not defined on a sliding scale though. One person with autism is one person with autism.
See this explanation.https://the-art-of-autism.com/understanding-the-spectrum-a-comic-strip-explanation/
All autistic people have difficulty with communication, it's a large part of the diagnostic criteria, some can mask more successfully and for longer periods than others, but to have a diagnosis, people must have
- from the NAS website - “persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction” and “restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests” (this includes sensory behaviour), present since early childhood, to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning”.
If he's at Uni, he could ask for support. for communication see the bottom of this page www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/individual-needs/disabled-students
Does he have any contact with other autistic people?
It doesn't really matter how autistic he is - one of the men I know has high functioning autism and you wouldn't know unless you spent a lot of time with him or he told you. The other has moderate autism and it's quite obvious that he has 'special needs'. They both behave similarly in this respect though because they both have social difficulties they are trying to overcome.
I recognise the 'dropping everything' to go out. They will both do this even if they understand that the person inviting him is only doing so because they will pay for everything all night; if he's really ill or has already planned to do things in the house. Such is the drive to "be nice and sociable".
I know another man who doesn't seem to have quite this issue, but he is a member of a Meet Up group for local autistic adults and they go walking or to the pub etc.
It's very difficult and a genuine desire/yearning. I hope you/he finds a solution
I bet at his age and being a student (access to cheaper drink) most socialising involves getting pissed. For what you say the people he goes out with are not real “friends” just other folk he knows and he maybe takes a casual open ended invite like “ we are meeting at, random pub, come along if you feel like it” very seriously due to his Asperger’s.They won’t feel responsible for keeping an eye on his drinking / behaviour.
At uni there will be other young people who struggle socially, for whatever reason, and there must be some societies which might attract some of these students, something like chess, foreign languages, role playing games or coding. In my experience sporting groups tend to drink very heavily. Maybe if he was able to meet like minded students, he could socialise without drink always needing to involved.
Usually there are student health services available, student counselling or pastoral care from a chaplain( you don’t need to have a faith) which may be a better option rather than a GP.
When he was younger he was found to be on the autistic scale
Sounds as though he's socially gauche and he's behaving how he thinks his peers behave from listening to their locker-room chat, rather than behaving how his peers actually do.
Could you have a good look on youTube for videos and elsewhere for podcasts, search for TED talks explaining social clues for young guys, how to fit in etc. and gently introduce him to the idea that what he thinks people do to have "fun" is actually self-destructive behaviour.
Talking and talk therapies can be unsuitable for people with autism because it's main diagnostics are difficulty in communication. It depends on how much self-awareness he has and how much he can objectively see his own behaviour in comparison to his peers and how much he can articulate that.
If he's trying to navigate social relationships whilst being utterly clueless because he's literally "blind" to all of the hidden and inferred parts of communication that NTs take for granted, then for starters, he needs to be helped to understand that verbal communication does not mean that we all interpret peoples' spoken words literally.
Then build on that.
Thanks for your comments. A lot of what you all are saying is true. When he was younger he was found to be on the autistic scale, although only slightly. So he's always struggled with making friends and having a social life. He craves interaction with others outside his family, so when he gets the chance to go out he jumps at it. He does enjoy going to the gym and as far as I know he's formed some friendships there. As a mum, I just want him to be happy and live a fulfilled life. Wish I could fix it for him but he doesn't like talking to me about it. I think encouraging him to talk to his GP might be the way to go, although I'm not sure if he'll admit there is a problem.
I would support what Blood says - it sounds like your son is lonely and very unhappy, and probably needs help. If there's any way you can persuade him to visit a doctor to talk about how he feels, then I would try that. He probably won't be able to talk to family because he'll feel like a failure, but sometimes men find it easier to talk to someone who's a relative stranger. I have quite close experience of a man who has mental health issues, and binge drinking and putting on a 'show' for strangers was part of it. It may not be the case, but I really don't think you should rule it out.
Is her on the spectrum eg Asperger's?
I have two male friends who behave similarly. They are both autistic; vulnerable; desperate to be liked and have friends and fearful of missing out.
I'm not going to offer an armchair diagnosis on this alone but social difficulties; lack of self care; lack of awareness of social 'norms' could offer an explanation.
He does sound unhappy though - I agree with that.
Poor son. I feel for him and for you. I think more people feel depressed and lonely than we realise.
It's difficult growing up and the world can seem harsh and uncaring when you get there.
It would be perhaps a good idea to encourage him to integrate socially by joining a club or society? What are his interests?
It sounds like he is lonely and because he doesn’t go out regularly he overdoes it when he does get asked out.
Could he start doing a few things on a weekly basis so going out for a drink is not turned into the huge night out it has become.
Even doing a bit of bar work in the evening so he can see how people interact on a normal evening. Or doing a sport or night school course, anything to get him out in the evening in a controlled environment
It would be good if he played a sport as a way of meeting people and making friends but it's hard to take up a sport as an adult - could he start squash/ tennis / runnunig with a family member to get into it. Then there will be loads of opportunity at uni.
When you say he goes home with strangers, is it to drink, or is it for sex? Or both?
A few people I went to uni with were like this - and they did grow out of it. However they were able to maintain friendship safe in spite of being rubbish company on a night out.
You probably won’t stop the binge drinking and he hook ups, but he needs more interests, things to do with people around his age hat doesn’t involve drinking. Sports for example.
Have a chat with him, he sounds unhappy.
Perhaps he is lonely & wants more friends? We never stop being mums who want our children to be ok, whatever age they are. Has he always been like this with friends? Does he have a partner? I expect that would really help him focus on someone else. The suggestions of clubs sound good, if you can encourage him to go.
I don't have an answer for you, but really hope that your dearly loved child finds a way out of this maze. A hug, hope it comforts a bit.
It sounds to me as though he is desperate for the company is dropping everything to go out but then something goes wrong. Why doesn't he leave with them? Why is he asking strangers to go home with them?
Have you seen him drunk OP? What kind of a drunk is he? Silly/giggily (me), maudlin, loud life and soul of the party, or does he get rude and aggressive? I would he is a shy person but he thinks alcohol gives him confidence and then he becomes a nasty drunk, I can't see anyone leaving a friend face down in the street with alcohol poisoning.
I would focus on trying to persuade him to do something/join a club at uni or home, something where he will meet people and can make genuine friends. It sounds very much to me like he is lonely.
It sounds as if he’s going out for drinks with people he doesn’t know too well, gets hammered instead of having just a couple and everyone else goes home and then steers clear. I had an ex who would have the tiniest sip of alcohol and be incapable of stopping until he was passed out, quite often ended up in hospital. But could happily go weeks without a drink. It sounds like your son is unhappy, it’s hard to know whether the drinking is a cause or a symptom of that unhappiness but either way it makes it difficult for him to form relationships.
I’m sorry, I really don’t have any helpful advice. It sounds so worrying for you and sad for your son.
Not sure what you can do apart from show him how concerned you are, explaining it is not about policing his movements but concern for his safety, and how anxious his behaviour makes you.
To be honest his drinking might be the reason he has few friends. People might be amused at that age now and again by someone living it large but if it happens often and to that extent they could well find it quite a turn off as a friend. It's out of control and dangerous.
He has a drinking problem and you need to talk to him about it, encouraging him to seek help - through the GP or AA. But he needs to acknowledge he has a problem and that might be hard to get him to do.
Your son is holding down a job- he is doing something well.
How are his grades at uni?
When he isn't drinking - what is he like?
He sounds lonely and depressed. And between the ages of 16 to 23, I was similar to how you describe him. But never ended up in hospital with my drinking. Often went home with randoms, often abused, often kipped in parks etc. I wasn't always drinking, sometimes I was off my face on disco biscuits and speed. I was a total space cadet. I was very depressed, very lonely, anxious and didn't know how or where I fitted into life.
I think he needs to chat to his GP but it sounds like he probably won't. So just be there for him and reiterate that he is loved and wanted and hope he one day changes his tune because you're scared of losing him.
Thinking the same as @Flaverings. You all call them ‘his friends’. But do the friends think they are just ‘acquaintances’?
Do they phone and text him each day? Come over? Possibly crash at yours? Go to the cinema/paint balling/bowling/gigs together? Has he met all their families?
I’m wondering if his “so-called friends” even realise that they are his friends.
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