How to get an older kid to admit he has Asperger’s

Thank you for sharing about your Asperger’s syndrome.  Thank you for sharing about yourself and your son.  Your article resonated with my wife and I and helped us see our adult son more clearly.

He denies that he has any sort of autistic tendencies, but everyone around him seems to see otherwise.  He appears to have blinders on . . . which is scary for those of us who love him dearly.  If I may presume to ask,  when did you first come to realize you had high IQ AS?  What helped you realize that?  Was it just getting older and more mature?  Could you have seen it sooner, with help from anyone else?  How do you separate your perhaps quirky tendencies as a person with a high IQ from those stemming from AS?

Our son has a very high IQ (160ish), and easily obtained a college degree with honors in literature and Spanish.  But he changed dramatically in college.  He came out very cynical and maybe even delusional.  He claims he is a poet, but he only wrote one major poem in college, and never had it published (although it was awarded best senior writing piece).

Since graduating three years ago, he has been unwilling (or unable) to get a job and says he is just waiting for the next poem to come to him.  He lives with his girlfriend, who is employed, with very few other close friends, which is precisely what you described in your article.  So what appears to be missing is his ability or even willingness to accept he may have AS and to get a paying job, maybe one not using his high IQ capacities.

So . . . any advice for worried parents?   Would love to hear from you!  Thanks again for sharing your article with the world on line.  That was a brave step in my view, and one I commend you on.

3 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    It’s too late for you to do anything.

    I’m guessing that you already have a relationship where you tell him things are fine because he’s so smart, good at school, etc. and none of that has changed. He is still smart.

    He doesn’t need to get a job because he has a girlfriend supporting him. You probably don’t like that you raised a son who doesn’t want to work, but that’s not his problem. You need to just accept what decisions he makes.

    If he is sad about something in his life and wants help from you, you can offer suggestions appropriate to someone with Aspergers without telling him he has Aspergers. (For example, people who get fired from jobs three times in a row are getting fired for personal reasons and need help navigating office politics in order to hold down a job.)

    Figure out how to spend time with your son in a way that feels good to all parties. That’s what relationships between adults are about – not getting one and other to change.

    (That said, you would help a lot of people if you start talking publicly about how parents should get help for kids when they are young so they understand their own limitations. It’s important to help parents of your kids realize that being a genius masks the enormous problems people with Asperger’s will have in adult life.)

    Good luck. And I hope this helps even though its probably not what you were hoping to hear.


  2. jessica
    jessica says:

    If he won best senior writing piece in university, which is specifically pointed out, maybe he’s not too far off in thinking poetry is a suitable path for him. He’s not stupid and his needs are currently being met (not by the parents, yay!), when and if they cease to be met by his current situation he will be forced to make new or different choices. Also, maybe he has realized he is just not achievement oriented, super-smart or not.

    Has he discussed being a stay at home parent? Quite young, but perhaps it’s something they want.

    My brother was this example, and it took a few years for even I to accept it because it was NOT expected and he is extremely intelligent. It doesn’t mean what they are doing is wrong in any sense- it’s what’s right for them. When I changed my perspective and started being supportive rather than upset by my own expectations of him, things changed for the better personally between us.

  3. Lauren Bishop
    Lauren Bishop says:

    “Figure out how to spend time with your son in a way that feels good to all parties. That’s what relationships between adults are about – not getting one and other to change.”

    Penelope – I want to print this on a t-shirt. It’s perfect advice for any parents struggling in their relationships with adult children. Wish my mom would take it!

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