19yr old son's future looks bleak...(16 Posts)
I am a 46yr old African mother who has a 19yr old son. Ever since we moved to Europe 10 years ago from Canada, my son has been completely and I mean completely unable to fit in in terms of socially. I don’t mean assimilate in terms of feeling ‘homesick’ or liking the culture; he’s fine in that regard. He can speak fluent English and generally doesn’t mind living here.
The problem is however, he has no friends, social circles or acquaintances. This is mainly due to his very quiet nature and the weird and disturbing things he says/expressed (suicidal ideation, sexual comments, violent comments). He got ‘removed’ (not expelled) from school two years ago and is now home-schooled due to one of these incidents which has further prevented his ability to make friends. Psychiatrists told us he had Asperger’s but he begs to differ. His most notable statement to me is that ‘’being an introverted black looking male with unattractive features (yellow eyes) doesn’t help me make the friends I want. All I have made are annoying acquaintances who turn out to be annoying’’.
He believes wholeheartedly that his ‘weirdness’ is a symptom
of being an unattractive black male and not caused by Asperger’s; and that if he was white and more attractive androgynous (feminine looking) that he would make the friends that he wants. Being weird is only according to him the result of extreme discomfort in a single sex school as a very black male who rejects ‘traditional gender roles’. He says that he specifically wants female friends because he says the vast majority of males in his school are verbally aggressive and don’t want to be friends the way he wants them to be. He identifies as asexual but says he wants platonic intimacy with females or males like him. I’ve told him that I can’t change his skin colour and excuses like that can’t get him anywhere but he isn’t convinced.
Not only has this negative belief prevented him from trying to make friends but it’s extended to his desire to do anything academic related. He’s basically said that ‘if I can’t be white and attractive then I may not try at all.’ He’s already failing his exams and probably will fail his Secondary School exams and not enter a good college but he doesn’t seem concerned. I know people say that if I kick him out he might ‘grow up’ by be more responsible and take things seriously, however certain actions in the past have shown me that he wouldn’t mind starving to death. Literally. He’s not a suicidal risk at all at the moment but if push comes to shove, he’s gonna give up.
What do I do?
Sorry, I'm a bit confused, is he 19? But you talk about failing secondary school exams? What school year is he in?
Difficult to give advice due to the above confusion.
Well it's the equivalent to the GSCE's. He's in his final year but currently homeschooled. He's set to take the exams in June 2017.
Right, thanks for explaining.
His situation does sound difficult. Maybe an initial thing might be counselling if he is struggling with his feelings?
I would encourage him to get out of the house more generally...take up a hobby or activity outside of the home e.g. archery or go to the gym. Get him into a routine with activities and the beginnings of interactions with the outside world.
Would he engage with you on a gradual 'action plan'?
What does he want for his future - can he imagine himself living independently? Would he cope?
Futures for people with Aspergers can be very bleak.
It does sound like the diagnosis of Aspergers is correct and that is the real cause of his problems.
Trouble is it can be VERY hard to convince people with Aspergers of anything.
Have you tried a social club for people with Aspergers? I know there's one local to me which takes people up to aged 25.
Social groups: www.autism.org.uk/services/community/group.aspx
Yes good point, check out local Aspergers / Autism services and groups, they may be able to offer some help or support.
Thanks Salty and Seal.
When the psychiatrist diagnosed him, I scheduled him to go to a group for autistic kids but most there were on the more severe form on the spectrum so we stopped going.
I've recommended that he goes to a church 'Youth Group' but even though he does and talks to some of the people who've known him 'on and off' for 5 years nothing happens.
My theory is that this has been the issue for most of his adolescent life. He has little social anxiety (told me) and is usually friendly and polite without being weird, HOWEVER most of the kids won't approach him to initiate the conversation. This is the issue.
And hee really is different in his interests for a young male. He doesn't like sports at all, comic-book movies, video games, doesn't like modern music (prefers 80s only), not interested in sex, girls. I probably wouldn't be wrong in thinking that the vast majority of teen boys his age would find it impossible to bond at all with him.
I don't know what girls that age really do since I grew up in a different culture but he may fit in better with them, although I doubt so since he would expect them to approach him which I know wouldn't happen.
Have you read Aspergers syndrome by Tony Attwood. Or looked up his site and videos on YouTube he's an expert on the condition and may help you maybe even your son understand better what you are dealing with. I have children with Aspergers and a sibling who clearly has it undiagnosed. Rigidity of thought is common and for some denial at certain stages.
Can I make a suggestion? I'm on Twitter and follow Den of Geek-all things comic and general geekiness. They have lots of followers who don't fit in for one reason or another and they have, well it's not lonely hearts, but helping people connect and meet people with similar interests.
My eldest has aspergers, depression and often has suicidal ideation, it's bloody rough. He had a shit time at school with bullying. He joined an online group for young adults with autism which was really useful (he met his fiancé on there)
I'd concentrate on researching his options for Sept 2017. What are his career plans?
You'll find it very hard to dissuade an aspie teen from a firmly held belief (I have 2). Besides his analysis of the situation could be very accurate. A mixed peer group in a more adult setting on a course that interests him might be just what he needs.
I know it's superficial, but it might give him a bit of confidence if he had coloured contacts? And maybe there are some groups around which are more accepting of difference- Warhammer is a good one, or maybe an LGBT group. Be careful with the latter though, because if he has any confusion about his identity he may get sidetracked into that rather than anything else.
pklme, do you mean other black teens? I don't know. There are very few africans in the towns where we live, and I know that his 'hatred of being black' has actually made other black teens dislike in his school dislike him.
He joined an coding club that runs on the weekends a years and a half ago which he still goes to but again he doesn't have interest with the one guy his age.
On a positive note, he did say that he found the younger kids more interesting and got ones email address however he himself amazingly sees why that can be a problem.....He's 18 and the girl and boy he's interested in are 11-12 . That would not look innocent at all in many people's eyes.
Oh, that is tricky.
Sorry, by LGBT I meant lesbian gay bi trans. They often have groups to support young people. As your son is struggling with his identity, feels asexual, he may be welcome to join in with such a group- they can be very accepting of individuality and help him find out who he is, a bit more.
It may not be appropriate for him or them, I was just trying to think of groups who might welcome very individual people. If you are looking for social opportunities, try googling steampunk. Again, very inclusive people, by and large.
And check out other ASD groups, your son won't be alone, even though he may feel it.
Your son sounds so similar to mine (suicidal ideation, dark ruminations, wanting to fit in - yet doesn't - denial of AS...). My son has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and as OP said, it is so difficult to help him engage with anything. Currently, I am looking towards voluntary work for my son. He was unable to continue education beyond Year 10. I hope some work experience and regular attendance will build up his confidence and social skills until he can take an Access course or Pre-Access course at college. At 19, if your son has an interest in a particular subject, an Access course may be a suitable route for him to engage in education in a mainstream environment and make friends (often people on the courses are quite mature).
My son is 17 and vehemently rejects his diagnosis because he does not want to be 'different'.
No advice but sympathise completely. My daughter is an undiagnosed aspie, and lives a very lonely and solitary life.
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