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Question from Dad with ASD son

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by The Lorax, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. The Lorax

    The Lorax Active Member

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    I don't know what to do to improve this situation or when my son will be able to do it on his own. So I wanted to ask the community since I can't be in his head or understand what is going on in his head. I wanted to get an ASD perspective.

    A little background...
    My wife and son both have ASD+ADD. Very mild. My wife holds a high paying job. I take care of the rest of the family needs and have a business of my own. We both work from home. My son's condition is less manageable than hers. They are both geniuses.

    My son has a weak executive function. We moved to the best school district in our state with services to help him. He is 2 grades ahead in school. He is medicated with anti-anxiety and ADD medication, as is my wife, which make him functional. He is in advanced classes. But...

    I have to micromanage so many things in his life it is exhausting. If I don't the situation escalates and deteriorates to the point it explodes into meltdowns.

    Food - He won't make food for himself if he is doing something. Then he gets irritable and unmanageable because he is hungry and refuses to eat until he exhausts me and himself to where I find a window to feed him. This happens roughly 50% of the time. Other times he realizes it and makes his own food if no one is around to help him and something easy is available like a frozen food.

    School Work - He does his school work when he wants to if he wants to. I have remind him of his work and manipulate the situation to get him to do it. It's a constant mental game. He is a "B" student with an "A" education that always scores the highest on state assessments.

    Night Time - I have to put controls on the night time process that literally takes 3 hours so he falls asleep. Any disruption in that process he is up well past midnight.

    He can't do physical activity due to exertional asthma. He was taking martial arts till he collapsed and couldn't breath. It slowly developed over a span of 5 years.

    If you meet him he seems NT. You would have to spend time with him to notice something was different.

    From what I have observed his perception of time and executive function just aren't there. He is learning executive function at school but I see little improvement.

    #1 Punishment doesn't work it only escalates.
    #2 I can't in anyway get upset or he has a meltdown.
    #3 I literally have to keep an eye on or ear open on him and my wife because they set each other off because he starts getting hyper and she can be that way too on occasion.
    #4 Neither realize and preempt the situation so I constantly have to referee.

    He is a good kid. He is kind. He likes school. Teachers like him. He doesn't lie. He isn't destructive like my friend's kid with ADHD. His intelligence keeps him afloat at school. I also don't ever have to sit with him to do homework for an hour because he gets everything. But I would rather do that for an hour than what is happening now.

    Frankly I don't know how I stay calm in our home. I manage two ASD people + a business. I am mentally exhausted daily. My wife alone is easy. Our son is the only thing that drastically stresses her out.

    I don't know how to improve this situation or help, or if I can. Is there a magical age where all this shakes out? Am I just stuck working around it till he grows up? Which is what I currently believe.

    I feel like he has anxiety attacks and meltdowns around me because he feels he is disappointing me. I don't raise my voice but it is hard for me to hide my frustration. I just can't fake a happy face. I am right or is this some defense mechanism that he knows if he melts down I go away till he calms down or gets his way? Which if I stand my ground it gets worse to the nth degree.

    I really need a vacation from everything.
     
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  2. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member

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    1. Executive functioning and Structure. Alarm clock 7am. Clean up for the day,...shower, brush teeth, etc. Breakfast @ 8am, study until 10am, snack, study until 12, lunch,..so on and so forth. Small reminder notes on bathroom mirror, computer, refrigerator door, etc....list 2-3 things,...no more. Check boxes are a good tool. Small dry erase boards are handy. Timer alarms are handy. Structure and routines with some autistics can be a double edged sword,...(1) it can be great for establishing routines and habits....(2) When life circumstances change,...and they have to change,...it can be a stressful event. Limit his "special interest" time,...as sometimes these can lead to intrusive and almost obsessive thoughts that WILL interfere with his study time and motivation.

    2. The need for better sleep. Sleep disturbances are common due to low circulating levels of endogenous melatonin (a well-documented autistic-brain thing), the brain being in a hyperactive state (glutamine:GABA balance is off), and increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Supplement melatonin, L-theanine (glutamine blocker), and chelated magnesium (better absorption) to relax the muscles and lower the blood pressure. **Do your research on this and talk to his pediatrician.**

    3. School. If you can create a reward system for those A's,...then it might kick in some motivation. Don't keep reminding him,...it has to be his idea and motivation to get that reward. Keep in mind, the reward has to be something significant to him,...or else he's just going to loose interest.

    4. Punishment must fit the crime. Make it a life lesson. Corporal punishment will likely just create defiance.

    5. Diet does matter. Carbohydrates cause inflammation and excess glutamine (excitatory neurotransmitter),...and with autistics, we worry about brain inflammation that may effect mood and neurotransmitter functioning. A varied diet is associated with a varied enteric bacterial population. Enteric bacteria are responsible for a significant amount of neurotransmitter production. If the diet is limited, there can be an overgrowth of certain bacteria that can cause irritable bowel as well as limited neurotransmitter production. Methyl folate and methyl B12. These help with energy metabolism and are already methylated and in their biologically active form. Many autistics do not methylate well and can lead to an inability to utilize certain dietary compounds that require this chemical conversion. Brain inflammation can be triggered by diet, as well as, neurotransmitter imbalances that create an excess amount of oxygen radicals (charged oxygen-containing molecules...OH-, H2O2, O-, etc.) which damage brain cells. Antioxidants like N-acetyl cysteine, CoQ10/ubiquinol, vit C & E (best if taken together), can be supplemented. I usually take these later in the day. **Do your research on this and talk to his pediatrician**

    As an autistic and as a parent, my goal was to not only get myself "on track", but my children to have the life skills needed so that they can leave the house at 18 and not come back. You can start with basic chores when he is young and work them into his routine,...little by little,...add more things. Let him learn about money management, investments, etc. Many autistics have difficulties with socialization and the "working environment", so consider the fact that he may be working from home. Learning about investments, the stock market, home business ventures, etc. will give him the skills he will need later in life. There are on-line investment apps you can start with. You can get into silver and other metals for relatively little money. Life skills with autistics are probably of higher importance than with so-called neurotypicals.

    Lastly, my bias would be to not let an emotional argument overrule a logical argument. I know, I was subjected to my parent's impatience, frustration, and "intellectual laziness" when they said to me,..."Because I said so!". Which just made me more upset and defiant. Children will understand a logical argument when discussed in a calm, relaxed manner. I completely understand though, that that is a skill many parents do not have.;):D
     
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  3. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    No, there is no magical age at which this all shakes out. I'm almost 52 and still figuring out things that others may consider basic.

    I've had to learn on my own how to manage myself - how to get myself to focus, how to get myself to go to sleep, how to make myself get started on tasks that I don't want to do, how to monitor and appropriately react to my own emotions, etc.

    The best advice I can give is to stop trying to manage your son on your own and try to make him a partner in it. This involves asking open-ended questions that may not lead to the answers you reach on your own. Guiding your son to independence means giving him increasing degrees of freedom. Stepping back also means allowing him to fail, learn, and try again.

    Example:
    Do you want to graduate? (Hopefully, the answer is yes. This isn't the open-ended, problem-solving question - just the lead-in to the actual discussion)
    What do you need to do to graduate? (He should be able to answer this. Probably "pass the classes" or something like that).
    What do you need to do to pass this class?
    ...Keep drilling down until you have a concrete plan of action that your son has helped produce. Write it down if that helps. Then, you may have to prompt him to initiate and follow the plan until it becomes routine for him.

    Another example would be to ask him how he can ensure that he will eat right once he gets involved in his homework/project/etc. Ask if there's anything he can do ahead of time to ensure that he'll eat. He may set an alarm, he may set food out ahead of time, he may decide to eat before engaging in something, etc.

    A family or child counselor may be able to coach you on how to guide your son through learning to manage himself.
     
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  4. Magna

    Magna Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Lorax:

    Unless I missed it, you didn't mention how old your son was or if vagary is more desirable, whether he's in grade school, middle school or high school.

    Most of what you wrote I could have written about my autistic son. I'm like your wife in that I'm autistic and my wife is NT. I'm also like your wife in that my autistic son and I can relate to each other in some ways that the rest of our family can't, but like your wife and son, my son and I can quickly escalate each other's emotions and my wife is the referee so I can't help you there.

    I do not believe your son is consciously using escalating emotions to "get what he wants". It's not a conscious thing.

    My grade school son sounds nearly identical to your son in the behaviors and challenges except that ours does lie which is not the norm with autism.

    One thing that we've found that helps us with things like food, etc is giving him choices. He can make the decision, but he has to choose one or the other and he has to make a decision by a certain time. His choices, like anyone else's can have consequences.

    Your son's food behaviors mirror our son's 100% in that our son if he's occupied with something he will not eat, period. He doesn't seem to have the ability to stop what he's doing and say "I'm hungry, etc." But, like your son, if ours doesn't eat he'll end up being very difficult to deal with and he'll be VERY emotional. He'll also deny up and down that his increased irritability has anything to do with hunger and he'll "dig in his heels" at that point and decide to actively rebuff any attempt at that point to get him to eat. The frustrating thing is, when he finally does eat, within 10-15 minutes he's a different person and he'll even acknowledge that after he's been sated.

    Back to the choices. Food as an example:

    We'll tell him something like this:

    "it's lunch time so you need to have lunch. You may not feel hungry but you have two choices and you can choose either one, it's up to you:

    1) Eat something for lunch and if you do, you can [ play video games, watch TV, etc. Whatever his desired activity is that he's wanting to or planning on doing later that day]

    2) Choose not to eat lunch. However, if you choose not to eat something for lunch, then you can't [ play video games, watch TV, etc. Whatever his desired activity is that he's wanting to or planning on doing later that day]

    And...you have to make a decision by [ deadline ].

    We tell him we won't bug him about it and the choice is his to make, but the results/consequences are entirely dependent on his desired choice.

    That seems to help.
     
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  5. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member It's My Birthday!

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    Don't you have regular meal times at home, everyone eats 3 times a day whether hungry or not? Individual catering is a lot of work, that's why families do regular meals. I cook in batches for the freezer (like do a large amount and portion it) so I've always got a cooked meal I can heat in the microwave.

    Sounds like a busy working parents thing, if you don't cook or like kitchen stuff, better get plenty of frozen meals and an extra freezer if necessary, that way he can get nourishment at his whim. Get a vitamin/mineral supplement and tell him to take one a week cos commercial frozen food is usually poor nutritionally.

    Can you get him to take an interest in simple cooking, like watch a youtube channel on easy cooking for guys? I ended up working in the food industry which I quite liked, it's a creative job. Food industry is more tolerant of 'unusual' people, than other jobs I tried. It can be a career path.

    I also have exertion asthma or whatever it's called, cannot do sport.
     
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  6. The Lorax

    The Lorax Active Member

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    #1 We have that in place. I have to be relentless enforcing it without being overwhelming or get upset if he doesn't do it. It mostly works but he still bounces off the wall at bedtime.

    #2 We use melatonin which works well. It is a must or he doesn't sleep till 2am. Thanks for other suggestions. We just got excellent insurance. I am going to try and find a specialized doctor for him.

    #3 Reward system has never worked with him. Could never find anything he really wanted that bad to do something. Like literally NEVER worked. Sometimes minor things but anything that required a lot of work, nope.

    #4 I use natural consequences.

    #5 His diet is good. We include veggies. No juice drinks ever in his life. He drinks water and milk. I make sure he gets veggies. We stay away from junk food. But occasionally only when he is NOT in school we might go out for a treat like hamburgers. I will consult with doctors. Some of this other biochemistry stuff I didn't know in such details.

    #6 Money wise he is very conservative. He does some chores. As for the logic I 100% agree with you. I never "because I told you so". I find it easier to get him to do something when I use a logical reason. I remember it worked on me because when, the few times, my parents used it I remembered.
     
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  7. The Lorax

    The Lorax Active Member

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    Tried all this and got the "I don't know" repeated answer.

    I have been trying to give him more and more. It just doesn't fly. What I give him he forgets to do. So either I let him fall flat on his face which only escalates the situation in which he gets overwhelmed or I manage him. Yes I explain I am here to help not criticize.

    My friend who's kid is far more lacking in control and is older has done way more work than I have with no success. His child is smarter than mine and a "C" student. We exchange ideas thoughts procedures and it's like he is actually doing more than I am and having worse results. It is so bad in his family they need therapy each week.

    But I like your idea of when he has work to help his work be easier to do instead of eyeballing him. Which thinking of it I generally do. But I didn't think of it consciously.
     
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  8. The Lorax

    The Lorax Active Member

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    He is 14. I actually have been trying recently choices to maneuver him into doing things. I will use it more often. Thanks.

    That's really interesting the similar pattern between our families and the dynamics.
     
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  9. The Lorax

    The Lorax Active Member

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    Please with 2 ASD people in the house that resist me trying to help them? No we don't have regular meals. This year I barely got my son to eat breakfast using reasoning and some clever manipulation.

    He eats a wide variety but if it isn't fresh he sticks his nose up at it. He is an incredibly sense of smell. It's almost unnatural what he smells. My wife is the same way.

    This family?
    Sit down meal?

    Our big gathering is for movies.
     
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  10. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I would say, its important to look after yourself, too. You may choose to be a support and help for your partner and son, but that needs to have boundaries, and you will have to be the person that sets them. It gives a good example to your son too, when you do that. Explain. Eg Dad's really tired now, and I feel like you do when you forget lunch, so I am going to have a quiet sit down.

    Also, and dont shoot me down in flames, having the academic ability to get As isn't the same as having the overall ability to get As. And a lot of people with Aspergers spend so much energy on coping and getting by, that they won't achieve the highest academic result they may technically be capable of.

    He needs life skills aswell, of course, or more even. A calm well rested dad would be great, I would think. For you and for him. You can actually live life quite happily with Bs or Cs, in fact. A lot of people do. And pursue interests and chill out.

    Does he have a career in mind? Maybe looking for the relevant qualifications for that and working to achieve them would give him a goal to aim for.
     
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  11. Dadamen

    Dadamen Well-Known Member

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    Many neurotypical teens don't know to prepare food for themselves, so this should not worry you at all. Once a teacher asked who can cook something, around half of class said they can and then teacher said we are good and that in many other classes only a few students can. I know a man that is 25 and still his mother has to go to his flat to tidy it up time to time.
     
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  12. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member It's My Birthday!

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    Dad, if you lived locally, I may let you employ me as a part time cook, (did home ec. ie food science, at school, worked in food industry, have food handling/hygiene certificate) but you don't. I'm in Australia.

    Is there a local person you can employ part time to do nutritious meals for you all? Like for the freezer if necessary. You people worry me.

    IIRC teenagers are hungry all the time, it's a growing phase.
     
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  13. BoltzmannBrain17

    BoltzmannBrain17 Member

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    The anxiety over you getting upset with him will probably go away with age. When I was young I would freak out whenever my dad got mad at me and I was terrified of him but as I hit my teens that went away.
     
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  14. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

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    Dear Friend. If you find a solution to ASD, you will be famous.

    Love him and let him know how much you love him every single day. That goes SO FAR I cannot even tell you how far.

    Also, set up a very strong account that he will have access to. You don't want to know how many Aspies are homeless, in vans, or whatever.

    I can't tell you anything else. It is all stabs in the dark and false hopes here and there with stupid do-gooders always telling you what to do.

    Use YOUR instincts founded in love with input from him which you trust. Work together and be YOUR OWN team. That is the best I can say.

    You will look back and say it was all worth it.
     
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  15. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member It's My Birthday!

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    This is reminding me of my nephew who is autistic, when he was a teen, his mother, who does cook and do meals, had a lot of trouble getting him to eat, he doesn't like mixed flavours and 'new' tastes. He'd get so absorbed in computer games that he's go without food and miss meals, so what she did was put a big sammich or two and a drink (milk, I think - probably a sealed carton in case of spills or a sealed can of something) next to him while he was at the computer, and when hunger strikes, he'd eat it. I think it was usually a chicken sammich. If you know what your kid will eat like a cheese sammich or something just put a couple next to him at his desk with a drink? I think the game was very absorbing - Metal Gear Solid 4 maybe?
     
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  16. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Your son sounds a bit like me. I would never do homework (I hated it). What I did find though, was that I didn't mind doing school work when I was AT SCHOOL. So what I did, when I got into middle and high school and started having options to choose my classes, is I would schedule "study hall" classes (where you didn't have a class, you just sat in a room and worked on stuff). I tried to have one of these periods a day. So I rarely had to take anything home (unless it was a big project). I also did schoolwork in homeroom, at lunch, or between classes lol. This destroyed any chance of a social life (not that I had one anyway). So he could go too far with this.

    I think my problem was (still is) that if I'm not in "work" space, my brain just won't engage with the things that need done. I was fine when I was AT school, but once I was at home, my brain switched into "home mode" and getting it to switch out of "home mode" and get into "work mode" was (still is) nearly impossible.

    Do you have space in your house for a dedicated office space for him to use for homework? Like a visual and sensory cue, "when you enter this space, you're in work mode". It should be a space away from his usual hangouts (don't use his bedroom, or it'll confuse him and mess with his sleep).

    As for the food thing - my best suggestion is to not try to change his eating habits (you won't...lol trust me, I'm in my 30s and I still have the same basic eating habits). Instead, have something quick, easy and nutritious. My particular bad eating habits are that I will only cook ONE thing and eat ONE thing - so for example, for lunch, I will eat an entire box of mac and cheese intended for a side dish rather than cook 3 separate courses. I've tried to change this about myself but I always fall off the proverbial wagon after a month or two. I actually switched to nutritionally complete shakes (there are several brands available) so that at least I'm getting good nutrition when I'm only eating one thing. Because otherwise, my diet is ridiculous. Microwave meals are also a decent option.

    I never ate breakfast, I'm just not hungry first thing in the morning, and my first meal is around 11am-12pm usually, unless I'm up really early or I have someone harassing me into eating lol. My mom TRIED to get me to eat breakfast, but that only sort of worked, and didn't last - now as an adult, there's literally no one policing this so I don't eat breakfast.

    I also couldn't really be motivated by rewards because there's not much I could be rewarded with (I didn't care about much) and there wasn't much I could be punished with either (because again, I didn't care about much).

    As an adult, I still need a schedule. My eating and drinking is done on a schedule too...I actually completely lose my bearings on weekends and don't drink enough, overeat, etc. because I depend on my work schedule for basic stuff like that.
     
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  17. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Let's start with this. He can do exercise, some Olympic athletes compete and have asthma.

    Exercise-Induced Asthma (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth

    Here are some tips for kids and teens:
    • If symptoms start, don't exercise until they stop.
    • Warm up before exercise to prevent chest tightening. (Warm-up exercises can include 5–10 minutes of walking or any other light activity, plus stretching or flexibility exercises.)
    • Take quick-relief medicine as close to the start of exercise as possible.
    • Breathe through the nose during exercise.
    • Take brief rests during exercise and use quick-relief medicine, as prescribed, if symptoms start.
    • Cool down after exercise to help slow the change of air temperature in the lungs.
    Being unable to exercise to improve lung function over time, will exacerbate meltdowns and hyperactivity.

    It may be that exercise in general, such as team sports are not something that some children with autism like. Exercise like swimming, cycling, walking, hiking tend toward being less competitive and more enjoyable activities for children with autism. Make certain he learns to swim, autistic children are greatly attracted to to the sound and feel of water even when they don't know how to swim.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  18. The Lorax

    The Lorax Active Member

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    I don't take offense or insult to anything.
    I am very well aware you might have the ability but not the capacity. I should have been an A/B student and I barely passed high school. I also should have been in gifted classes but I fell through the cracks of our crappy school system.

    He has no goals for a career but I don't expect one at 14.
    No motivation to do anything that requires effort.

    But he does have interests. But he is lazy.

    Perfect example.... he took piano lessons. He was really good. Never practices. So we stopped them. Why spend the money. I told him if you practice I will bring back the piano lessons. Just give me 20m a week.... NOPE. Not going to practice.

    That is typical of him.
     
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  19. The Lorax

    The Lorax Active Member

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    @Dadamen - wow that makes me feel better actually. The thing is he can, he just wants someone else to do it for him. He has in the past.

    @OkRed - Yea he knows. I don't believe in hitting children accomplishes anything but make them fear you. I was hit only a couple times as a little kid and for a decade after that I was a fearful kid. One good thing is that he realizes I have more wisdom than he does. He also doesn't lack in wisdom for his age surprisingly. He doesn't do stupid crap. One of his problems is that he is like the Hulk, ALWAYS ANGRY! Everything annoys him. He needs medication or this gets out of control. Without his anti-anxiety medication he is intolerable. Like to the point we need to send him off to a private school or my wife will have a breakdown. She has depression with the ASD+ADD he has anxiety only. In men depression usually manifests itself as anxiety. And yes you are absolutely right it is a shot in the dark trying to figure them out. That's why I posted. Others might give me insight on "ok this is typical of kids like him" which fills in a piece of the puzzle that now I know I can't change but I can work around.

    @unperson - THAT IS EXACTLY what I need to do. That is my child. Except if he is not annoyed "I'm hungry". Or he will get him from his table cross the entire house while I am deep in work "I'm hungry". I have to fake not being annoyed as hell at the interuption and all my mental balls just collapsing to stop and address this when the food is RIGHT NEXT TO HIM! (including frozen dinners which he is capable of making. I think in his head is this. "I'll ask dad to do it. if he says yes great otherwise I'll starve because I don't want to waste my time interupting what I am doing".

    @SDRSpark - He is same way but he does do homework. And he is far better off at school. I don't believe in homework myself but they won't take it off. He does ok on his computer for homework. I'm surprised. As long as he is at school. He was in virtual school with the pandemic doing the minimum to pass the class and literally never paid attention. He still was passing. It pissed me off so much. But I get it. 6 hours of watching a teacher talk is boooring. BTW he is a happier less angry person at live school again. Grades improved also. His food selection is fairly wide including salads. But if anything doesn't smell or taste right he loses his appetite. He doesn't like to eat breakfast and neither does my wife. I love breakfast. Wow what you said about rewards is exactly him. Except he loves sushi. So on occasion I bribe him with that. Crazy adult life you got. I am forces to have everything organized in my head or my family falls apart.

    And yes I do need a vacation everyone.

    @Mia - thanks for link.

    If I missed your name know I did read all the replies.

    One thing for me is that there are things I should be doing as suggested above but I am literally drained at the end of the day and just don't have the energy to do them. If I didn't work I could. Like he wants to go to the pool on the weekend. He wants to play with ME and by play means wrestle which by wrestle means I fend off a giant 6' tall child that doesn't know his own strength and it's like a workout that isn't fun for me. But if he invites friends over I will watch.

    You all verified some things for me. Filled some puzzles of is it autism or is it parenting?
     
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  20. FIVER

    FIVER Well-Known Member

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    I remember those years, with 3 kids ASD)
    I don't want to dredge up those memories, but I definitely feel for you. Preteen, teen were awful years. I'll just say this...you have to pick your battles otherwise you are likely to crack.
    Pick one thing that bothers you the most, you and your wife muster up the energy to stay a united front. He will get the picture after he sees there is no backing down.
    My husband and I didn't team up like I am telling you to do. We just did tag team. With 3 kids we were just exhausted. With me as an ASD mom, it was like the blind leading the blind.
    But, I'm telling you pick your battle. Agree upon it with your wife and attack it until it becomes rote memory. Then take a breather, then pick the next annoying behavior and team up with your wife.
    United we stand divided we fall.
    You can message me privately if anymore questions.
     
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