How to support an adult with Autism who doesn't know it.....


I married in to a wonderful family and have a new adult cousin that I am very close with. The whole family knows he is on the spectrum, but no one talks to him about it, he's never been to a doctor for a diagnosis, and although he knows he is different, he thinks he is just messed up. He is highly intelligent, but not extremely independant. We all believe that it is Aspergers, but again, there is no diagnosis. The family knows that he needs to get support, but he is resistant to talking about going to see a doctor.

Any thoughts, advice, or suggestions would really be appreciated by parents or adults on the spectrum.

  • Danil30
    I suppose you can come from the perspective of it being an advantage rather than a disadvantage. I think of Autism more in terms of identity and intelligence and that's how I present it to my adult son, especially when he is experiencing some of the difficulties that are inherent within being different,
    Jahki
  • Hi DaniL30
    I think he won't want to discuss the problems [that you see him to have] with a supposed professional. He may find the thought of seeing a doctor about 'whatever' as not something he wants to do. I have just found out my 26 year old daughter has aspergers. She couldn't care less about getting a diagnosis, & refuses to talk if I make her go to talk to a psychologist. The only reason I will press ahead with this is that I hope to find her some 'pathways' to follow. You may think the family is wrong in not talking about it. But I bet he doesn't want to talk about it. But in saying that you could be the perfect person for him as you have a fresh take & haven't been there his whole life. But take it easy 'cos if it doesn't go to plan the family have to live with the fallout.
  • hi Danil,

    first of all... thank you for having a genuine concern from the heart, and not just a desire to fix him... i think honesty will be essential... and understanding your own motivations, as you appear to do well... so that you can communicate with him on an honest human to human level... again with no desire to fix him. i think it is more difficult for humans to understand themselves than we realize... so how can we expect to understand someone who has even less desire to understand you than you think they should... please don't be in a hurry and let go of expectations. listen to your heart and let it be your guide.

    again, i complement your sincere concern.

    larry
  • Hi DaniL30 & Thanks for posting.
    IMO the support I have received from members of my family have made the most difference; my experience working with Doctors and medical folks on my daughter's behalf only seems to confirm the importance of family, especially today where the emphasis in medical care is "efficiency" - walk-in&out surgery as an easy example. Unfortunately mental health and ASD issues are no different - a load of powerful (harmful?) drugs might only produce the "surprising" conclusion that treatment isn't having the expected effects. Even good doctors can be wrong - for a long time. Our best doctor walked a fine line, and sought input from the family extensively, and even wrote medical orders for family visits to ensure the availability of family support. Net take: encouraging dependence on medical interventions may not be the best answer.
    Best Wishes,
    Warren M.
  • Thank you so much for the thoughtful responses! I really appreciate the time and support.

    Nobody wants to fix or change this family member, he really is wonderful, we are mostly worried about his anxiety levels and his happiness. Right now he is searching for jobs while finishing up his second master's degree and is really struggling to find a fit. He got his drivers license, but is too anxious to drive. He wants to date and have a family, but we can't get him to leave the house.

    It's these sort of things that we want to support him with and I hate that he just thinks he is messed up. Since no one has discussed ASD with him, there is concern that at this point (mid-thirties) it could be upsetting to him instead of helpful.

    The comments so far have already been really helpful in helping me frame my thinking around an approach and if anyone thinks of any other ideas that would be helpful, I am always open.

    Thank you! :-)
  • You may be able to talk about anxiety first - the important aspect is to let him lead as much as possible - years of others controlling , and feeling inadequate / stupid , makes some of us resent more interfering .
    Once he knows that he has a glitch which is not his ' fault ' he can begin to work around them .
    It's essential to give him time and not pressure him .
  • You could find a comprehensive list of characteristics on the computer and invite him to have a look at it, A site that I found could have been describing me in detail, right down to the black clothes, dogs and inability to make decisions , it was such a relief for me, and my adult son uses the understanding of himself as Autistic to modify his stress levels because it helps him understand it.
  • Hi Danil30
    I too am most worried about my daughters anxiety & happiness.
  • Thank you! I'm so appreciative of everyone's thoughts and suggestions. I am sharing them with my family and they are super appreciative as well.

    Jahki you mention what a relief it was to you and how your son is able to modify his stress levels with a better understanding and that is what I hope for my cousin. I want so badly for him to have that kind of support and awareness in order to help him be the amazing guy he already is without feeling as overwhelmed and down on himself.

    I work with ASD children, but it is new to me to know how to reach out in the community for an adult on the spectrum. Any stories and continued help and information will continue to be incredibly appreciated! :-)

    Oh, and an update...he got a job today! :-)
  • My daughter is an adult and dx. you cannot force them to get dx and even if he was now what would change? I am not big on going around and saying to my child, and never did..
    HEY YOU HAVE AUTISM or you have a disablity. That is like someone saying one has an ugly hair cut. Or as my son says, duh, obvious.. why elaborate. if he needs services then try to get a dx. or unless there is abuse from his parents I would just be there for him the best way you can.
  • Why???? I don't get it. Why pretend there isn't a problem ? Are they willing to acknowledge the problem now??
  • Why???? I don't get it. Why pretend there isn't a problem ? Are they willing to acknowledge the problem now??