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So, my DH has been telling colleagues that our son is autistic

(152 Posts)
VocationalGoat Sun 06-Mar-16 12:03:23

This is personally a huge and very recent (as in the past week) 'thing' we've been going through. In the past month, I've quietly wondered if our youngest child of 21 months has a hearing problem, autism, etc. DH and I had not travelled down this path and had only discussed our son's speech delay with concern about two weeks ago. We were aware of issues with DC's speech delay but speech delay is an issue in the family as is deafness so we observed and took a wait and see approach. At about 20 months, I began thinking it was time to see our family GP. One week ago, I did just that. Audiology and paediatric referrals were made and now we are waiting for those appointments.

DH and I in the past two days especially have actively and openly discussed our observations. I should mention DH is a GP. Mid-discussion, he let me know that he's been telling colleagues (over a period of 2 months) that he's struggling at home with an autistic child, hence his late appraisal submission, lateness at work, etc. DH's time keeping has always been appalling... this needs to be said.

My jaw dropped. My response was "You've been telling people your son is autistic? We don't even have any answers to anything. Let's let the consultants guide us."
He became enraged.
I told him he was being presumptuous, dishonest, and that I was really upset that before we, the parents, had even sat across a table to discuss, he had gone ahead, diagnosed our 21 month old with a serious disorder and went around telling colleagues... as opposed to his wife.
His answer?
"Fuck you!" storming off upstairs only to come downstairs 15 minutes later to say we'll talk later "but I'm not wrong. What I did was not wrong."

It's private for now, it's personal. I'm out of my depth. I've gone from being a mum of three to a mum of three, one DC who may or may not be deaf, may or may not be autistic, may or may not be 'normal', for lack of a better word.
I am trying to understand our son and I am really troubled, unsettled by the fact that DH has been talking about his struggles with his autistic son to others. He even wrote to his appraiser, talking about his struggles... 6 weeks ago, using this as his reason for his late appraisal submission.
He's not even home enough to observe the kids! He comes home at 9-10pm, eats, falls asleep on the sofa, wakes up, works, bless him. He works bloody hard. Weekends he's on the PC browsing for hours, just to gel his brain a bit. He works Saturday until midday. However, I don't think, medical degree or not, DH is qualified to diagnose our 21 month old son with autism and tell people about it before the two of us had even talked about our son's issues.

I don't know why I'm even posting this. But added to my concerns about DS, I feel DH is just... I don't know, somewhere else with this...not with us. He's just taking his own journey, almost piggy backing on our son's snap diagnosis made by 'dad the doctor'.

Please tell me to lighten up, to accept, to get a grip. I feel lost. Tell me anything.sad

Sirzy Sun 06-Mar-16 12:06:54

I can see why you are angry, and his reaction was certainly over the top.

It sounds like he is struggling just as much as you though, and for him to cope he needs to talk to people about it and there is nothing at all wrong with that - infact it is a very good thing for a lot of people and better than bottling things up.

Fugghetaboutit Sun 06-Mar-16 12:08:48

I thought my son had ASD at that age and was going through what you are now. He's now 3 and definitely NT just went through a difficult stage. Your H is BU as it might not be so, your ds is still very young.

Finola1step Sun 06-Mar-16 12:09:53

You both need time to process the situation but this processing may take different, individual routes. That said, it sounds like that your dh has been using your ds' situation as a convenient excuse to explain workplace shortcomings. Ones that were perhaps there already. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

I think your next step is to pause for a few days. Let the dust settle and then simply ask your dh why he's been telling others before a formal diagnosis.

HopeandSoap Sun 06-Mar-16 12:10:20

I've never known an autism diagnosis made that young, especially without ruling out other things first! Could be something as simple as glue ear! Yanbu, he shouldn't be doing that as he's not qualified tondo that and also seems like he's using it as an excuse for his poor time management! Any chance of him working less so he has time to do these things? Why's he working so late every day? That's probably the reason for his late appraisal not your son!

tabulahrasa Sun 06-Mar-16 12:12:00

Are you angry about him talking about it, or about him using it as an excuse when actually it's you dealing with the brunt of it rather than him?

Because if he's having a hard time dealing with it too you can't dictate who he speaks to, that's not fair...but that doesn't seem to be what you're upset about.

Want2bSupermum Sun 06-Mar-16 12:19:17

DS has been diagnosed with ASD. We both told our employers after the diagnosis and they are aware of his other issues which had been diagnosed earlier.

You can diagnose at 3. DS was 2 years 11 months. It's just more inaccurate. However I'd be kidding myself if I tried to convince myself that he is NT.

OP I understand why your DH has spoken out about your DSs development issues. It is also probably his way of coping and accepting the diagnosis.

VocationalGoat Sun 06-Mar-16 12:23:29

Thanks for your replies. I'm upset that I didn't know he was struggling... I'm more upset that he's run so short of excuses for poor time keeping that this is his reason. Talk about issues with people. I'm a big believer in a problem shared is a problem halved. But a) Talk to me. I had no idea two months ago that he decided our son was autistic. But his colleagues knew. b) Talk to colleagues but not as an "I'm late because I'm not coping with our autistic son who hasn't been diagnosed or even assessed and whose mother, my wife, doesn't even know I've diagnosed our son and shared it with others."
So yes, these are the reasons I'm upset.
I'd be upset if DC were diagnosed as autistic, of course. No one gets out the confetti and whistles, but I'm not ashamed or scared...concerned, yes...out of my depth, yes. Uncertain. I feel uncertain.
But diagnosis is a long process. It takes time and DH is jumping to conclusions before any assessment has been made by consultants who deal with this all day, every day.
So that's mainly why I feel troubled.
I appreciate your kind support and insight. flowers

Joysmum Sun 06-Mar-16 12:23:47

I was about to write the same thing tabulahrasa. You've saved me a lot of typing.

cestlavielife Sun 06-Mar-16 12:32:28

If you know speech delay deafness are in the family then tests and referrals should have been made earlier...but no worries you are on the right path now.

It is very common for One parent to see the problem and the other to deny it...none of us wants our dc to have autism etc but eventually we learn that denying it won't make it go away. If getting early intervention makes the diagnosis unnecessary later no harm done. ..

I t was not wrong to say ds is autistic...if he has signs. Perhaps dh is right and you are not seeing... (denial is wonderful)

if it turns out not to be so he can tell them. It may be easier to say "autistic" as opposed to "having tests". Look it s hard for everyone involved.. some people "come out" with colleagues/friends sooner rather than later...some hide it. Even tho I have disabled ds asd sld it took four years for my work colleague to reveal his dc too had serious disability...

It is posible to diagnose early and it's best to seek help sooner rather than later. There are good programmes for young diagnosed like early bird etc.

Your dh needs to look at his work hours. They aren't healthy . He needs to look at why he is using ds as an excuse...

Take deep breath. You going to need to work together on this one. Don't fight about who he has told.

Do talk about his work hours and work /family life balance....

Push for early diagnosis so you can plug into support groups.

JolseBaby Sun 06-Mar-16 12:35:16

His reaction sounds like guilt TBH.

Guilt that he has been using your son as an excuse to justify poor performance at work.

Guilt because he knows that regardless of whether your DS is autistic or not, he had no right to use him as an excuse, as he does very little around the home.

Guilt because he knows that he was wrong and that you have caught him out. But it doesn't sound like self-awareness is his best trait, so it's easier to get defensive and aggressive with you, than face up to the fact that he's pulled a rather shitty stunt to justify the fact that he can't manage his time effectively.

flowers to you. Hope your DS is OK. Your 'D'H needs a boot up the arse.

SueLawleyandNicholasWitchell Sun 06-Mar-16 12:38:45

I think rather than going down the route of why he said it, you could perhaps talk to him about his workload generally, because it sounds like that is the root problem and this is one way in which he is trying to assimilate it with his stresses at home.

I think he feels guilty and defensive for talking about it at work and that is why he snapped and swore, but I think that all needs to be put to one side.

Focus on his workload and how you can support him, and then how to approach the possible diagnoses together.

catkind Sun 06-Mar-16 12:43:10

Is the reason he's late with things anything to do with your son? Have you seen what he put in letter about struggles, is it true except for the diagnosis? I think his putting in writing that your son is autistic could really come back to bite him if son turns out not to be. In most people it might be understandable to use "autistic" as a shorthand for difficult to deal with undiagnosed issues. Not for a GP surely. His response smacks of guilt to me.
Whether he is honestly convinced it's autism or was just exaggerating for an excuse, I can well understand why you're livid.

VocationalGoat Sun 06-Mar-16 12:44:04

flowers Thank you JolseBaby. flowers
I need a bit of validation for my feelings.I appreciate your words.

cestlavie thank you. I don't think we're really in denial, just out of our element. I don't know what it's like to have an autistic child. I may be about to become an expert in rhe next few years. I just don't know. I do know that my concerns increased as issues became more obvious over a period of (recent) time. He passed his newborn hearing screening but I've worried about glue ear recently and our worries have progressed from there.

I need to see what the consultants say and what their observations are.

ImperialBlether Sun 06-Mar-16 12:44:24

It doesn't sound as though he's managing his time well and he's used your son as an excuse for this. I'd be furious, particularly as he spends such little time with him.

davidcameroon Sun 06-Mar-16 12:45:58

I think you're right to be angry that he doesn't see his kids much and used his son as an excuse for being behind on his work. What is the real reason he's behind?

VocationalGoat Sun 06-Mar-16 12:46:07

Oh DH's lateness is who he is. He was an hour late for our first date. grin We have two other kids. He's used them as an excuse as well. wink

Sirzy Sun 06-Mar-16 12:46:16

The thing is no matter what the eventual diagnosis is you are both struggling now and that is impacting on both of you. You need to sit down and calmly discuss what's happening and how you can support each other.

He may have spoken to someone out of the home because they are detached from the situation and he doesn't want to put more onto you.

fusionconfusion Sun 06-Mar-16 12:48:00

20 months is very early for a referral, so I wouldn't agree that it should have happened sooner - family history or not.

In the US, diagnoses can be made very early and there is a specific assessment for toddlers with a "nonverbal mental age" of 12 months called the ADOS Module T. So realistically, very few children can even be fully assessed before 18-24 months.

[[ Here is a link showing how ASD can look in toddlers]]

I think it sounds like both of you know that there is something going on with your son's development that doesn't seem as expected or to be going away on its own.

You are both probably struggling, very understandably. It's such a difficult time for any family when there is uncertainty about your beloved child's development.

Has your dh said there is a definitive diagnosis of autism to his employers or colleagues or that your son might have autistic difficulties? Most of his colleagues will know that it is a dad showing distress about your son's development and won't believe this as a "diagnosis" in the absence of a full assessment.


If at 21 months your son is making very little eye contact, not pointing, not interacting socially, with limited play or reciprocal interaction skills, it is not unlikely that he may need a multidisciplinary assessment for autism.

That's a lot for all of you, and it's not uncommon for parents to handle this differently to one another. I understand and hear your shock he would go "elsewhere" outside of the relationship to talk about something that feels so new and terrifying. I would feel that way about it too. And I think it is just something that sometimes happens when people are facing this.

Much love to you both. It's early days, who knows what will be?

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sun 06-Mar-16 12:52:28

Gosh, I think he's behaved horrifically. You certainly do have a right to decide when that news is public, if it's news, and he doesn't have the expertise to make a diagnosis so he shouldn't be doing it. I would also expect conversations between you and he about your children to be the first place a issue like this would be shared. You are their mother and he hasn't respected that. If he sees the children as little as you say, it does sound like a convenient excuse, possibly at his son's expense if he isn't autistic after all. Which is sickening.

I don't actually know how I'd begin to get over this. flowers

Wolpertinger Sun 06-Mar-16 12:52:30

Picking out a few things from your post - I am medical but not a GP:

Most of my GP mates are very very miserable right now. Working all hours pretty much describes them especially if your DH is a GP partner. They are mega stressed about work and can't cut down as there is no-one else to do the work - there is a massive recruitment crisis. Even if his time-keeping is amazing, this just seems to be how it is right now.

Also medical people like talking about medical things and medical worries. To you, what was happening to your DS was private. But for the average medic, they would be discussing this kind of thing with colleagues, seeking out someone they thought was an expert to chat to, asking questions at meetings and so on. It's unlikely it even occurred to him to see it in the same way you did. It's how they solve problems for patients so they just carry on the same way when it's their family.

Finally appraisal - yes, this exactly the sort of thing you would talk about with an appraiser, especially if you were late handing in. It sounds like your DH has been very stressed about work and is now very stressed about his DS - there's a section in the appraisal where you have to talk about your own health nope, doctors don't get much confidentiality and so having been late in handing in he will have to talk about the stresses that led to it.

Is he reasonable saying your DS is autistic when it's not diagnosed yet? I have no idea. He may think it's obvious, or be so consumed by stress he is only seeing negatives.

It doesn't solve the not talking to you issue or how you are both dealing with stress in your marriage. And I've not met your DH so have no idea if he's really lovely but stressed or more of a shit. Just wanted to say that his behaviour that you described would be rightly or wrongly be fairly standard for a doctor.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sun 06-Mar-16 12:53:28

Apart from anything else, he shouldn't be trying to diagnose a member of his own family. Doesn't he respect his colleagues to do their job properly? Talk about unprofessional...

Wolpertinger Sun 06-Mar-16 12:54:44

Finally one last thing - high functioning autism is very common in doctors I almost certainly have it

Any chance your DH could be HFA and this is behind some of his reactions?

ClarenceTheLion Sun 06-Mar-16 12:59:10

Be careful with supporting your DH though that you don't end up having no time to take care of yourself. It sounds like you're a single parent effectively.

If your Dh can't cope with his workload, ideally he should reduce it. My DSis is a health centre receptionist and she says none of the GPs at her busy practice work a full surgery day five days a week and then the Saturday clinic. Does he work weekday mornings?

fusionconfusion Sun 06-Mar-16 13:00:06

To be fair gonetoseeamanaboutadog, I am in same boat as Wolpertinger and it is much more likely to be like this.

It is how you talk. It isn't about "professionalism" in this instance, or trusting colleagues.

It's about struggling through a difficult time as a human being and using the language that comes to you most easily as a way of coping. Sometimes it can be a way of self-distancing and depersonalising when you really can't manage the feelings arising.

And I would be livid and hurt and feeling lonely and confused and outraged if I was OP too.

At the same time, given it's a really hard situation for everyone and all these strong emotions will be bouncing about, getting too caught up in evaluating his actions as appalling or horrifying etc might not make any of this much easier to bear.

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