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I NEED your HELP!!

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1 I NEED your HELP!! on Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:53 pm

jjc02d


First off thank you for your time. I have a serious concern about my 22 year old cousin (I am 27 and live in FL), who lives in NYC with his mother. I have gotten to know my cousin since he lived in the same city (Gainesville, FL) as me from the ages 9 to 15. Back then I noticed he was very different. He often talked to himself and engaged in strange behaviors, but I always chalked it up to his mother being over protective, moving him all over the United States (in pursuit of love), and his lack of a father figure.

He has never had a friend as long as I have known him and at this point in his life I am the only one who talks to him on any sort of regular basis besides his mom who lives with him. He totally depends on her. He went to college for a couple years (primarily on my encouragement) and has average intelligence, but hated attending school (I believe because he hated interacting with other students) and dropped out when he moved from San Francisco to New York City over a year ago. Since moving he has not gotten a job let alone seriously looked for one. He spends his days doing literally nothing productive to his future.

When talking to him he can converse extensively about a topic (he fixates on things) without a real purpose behind it and most of our conversations are very long, but he talks about nothing. Also when I try to make the conversation interactive he has a very difficult time keeping it going. When I ask him tough questions about his future he often attempts the blatantly change the subject without even acknowledging the question. He is very judgmental of people, especially of those he does not know and often judges people off of things he disapproves of. He can even become unreasonably angry and upset which also can be scary (as if he could cause serious harm to someone). With all this said, he desperately wants to have a meaningful friendship with ANYONE! He longs for this, and clings tightly to any positive interactions he has, but has lacks the empathy to make a friend.

Recently my Mom has suggested that he may have Aspergers disorder. So I have been researching on the net about symptoms of AS and my eyes teared up as I read because I felt I was reading the explanation for my cousins behaviors that I have seen for years. Other things he has done include weird hand movements (I witnessed more as he was a child, but I'm sure he still does), he is OVERLY sensitive to loud noise, temperature, and stimuli, he's clumsy, uncomfortable in his own skin, very little to no confidence and self esteem, wakes up abnormally, has odd skills (being able to tell you the day of the week if given a date and year), weird voice inflection at times, scared of taking risks of any kind, unable to set goals, and occasional starring.

I see him usually once or twice a year. When we are around other people you can tell he tries to hide some of his oddness (but still seems odd), but it comes out a lot more around just me or especially his mom, basically people he his comfortable around. He knows he is different, but his mom seems totally oblivious to his behavior and still even babies him. She doesn't force him to get a job, let alone do much around the house which I feel has made him much much worse. When I talk to him and ask what he has been up to he often replies, "Just trying to stay calm." He often seems tense and also seems to display some schizophrenia sings (talking to himself, and when confronted denies it) which is really scares with all of the free time on his hands.

Bottom line. The only person he really really trusts is his mom. His mom's word is golden to him. I am pretty much the only other person he holds any sort of real relationship with, but his mom's word trumps mine. The problem lies in that he depends on her for EVERYTHING and she depends on him emotionally (unless she finds a man and then she casts him to the side). Either way she thinks he is an amazing person who can do no wrong. I am afraid if I bring up my suspicions to her she will either not take me seriously or disown me as her nephew. I have no idea how he'd react if I told him, but since he tells his mom everything she will completely form his opinion for him. I need some help on approaching this!! We have other mutual family that knows he has a problem, but I am really the only one he truly trusts. He is genuinely a nice guy, who doesn't swear, drink, or do drugs, but he needs some help.

If I do not do anything I am afraid in the worst case scenario that he will hurt someone or himself sometime in the near future. Due to my other suspicions of schizophrenia, I am extremely worried he may have a break due to him being in his early 20's (I already had one friend who did). In a better, but not by much case, after his mother dies he will become homeless and live on the streets because his lack of being able to get employment. I do not have unrealistic expectations about him, but I feel if he knows that there is a specific problem that he has he will proceed in life in a more positive manner knowing that he is not the only person in the world with this problem, which I think he feels. Please let me know if you have any advice at all.

2 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:24 pm

KelleyNNelson

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In my opinion, he sounds all out autistic rather than aspergers. Definitely a mild or High Functioning form, if so... (he sounds a lot like my son all growed up... lol)

I'm not entirely sure what kind of programs they have in NY, but I'm sure they must have plenty, even for adults. The thing is, he is an adult and shouldn't have to answer to his mom. Maybe you can convince him to go get himself evaluated somewhere (can he get himself places without his mom?) and do this on his own without her until he finally gets a diagnosis and can put it in front of her.

Maybe you can do some online research for his local area for psychiatrists or even free programs that do evaluations, also maybe find a support group for him. Better yet, send him a link to this group. He might just enjoy chatting with some of us crazy asperger/autistic like people to vent or relate. Wink

The doc (Dr. Ron, the founder of the group) may know more and may chime in on this eventually, but with most of us residing in the general Tampa Bay area, it's hard for me (at least) to say what kind of things are available. All I can say is Google (or your favorite search engine) is your friend and you'll find a ton of information.

I'm sorry to have so little to offer you, but please know that you do have support here. If you ever happen to be in the area during one of our meeting times, please feel free to stop by!!

Kelley

3 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:27 am

jjc02d


Thanks for your input Kelley. Everything that I've read seems to point towards Asperger's. I knew him as a kid and I've worked with kids that had autism and it doesn't seem to match up. The main difference being that he really really wants to fit in and be social, have friends and the whole shabang. The autistic kids that I have worked with are perfectly content in their worlds and seem to be scared of social situations. The twist that I think that makes his case more interesting is that he seems to also have some sort of Schizophrenia mixed in there, I'm just really scarred he's going to have a break since he's at that age and he's doing nothing productive with his life right now.

I really appreciate your suggestion on finding places to help him and that is going to be something I will look at, but I really need to clear this initial hurdle first and if that goes well I can then pursue those avenues you suggested. His mom IS the hurdle. Yes he is fully functional enough to get on the subway and get an opinion from someone, but there is no way he could do that since his mom works from home where he is 24/7. They are home together like a friggin' retired married couple. And even if somehow I suggested that to him he would absolutely consult his mom first. I missed my opportunity when he was going through a rebellious stage when he was in his late teens, but I didn't even know what AS was back then.

I'm really trying to see if there is someone else out there who has had a similar situation and so far I haven't, which is really discouraging. A few family members have shown concern for him and his mom has simply gotten really short with them and said he's fine and there's nothing wrong. So I really have to handle this situation delicately. I'm going up there in month so I am trying to game plan because I will and must do something about it.

4 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:45 am

csweepigirl

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He could have a dual diagnosis, HFA or Aspergers and something else, maybe schizophrenia..although it really doesn't sound like it because usually there are delusions and you didn't mention that. He may be repeating himself after he says something, this is common for someone on the spectrum. Playing it over, to make sure it sounded right. On a lighter note, schizophrenia is not something to fear. Ahh, doesn't even sound like it. He can get on social security disability. www.ssa.gov This may be a good starting point. When you said that he replied "just trying to stay calm" I can definitily identify with that. He may be suffering, and I mean SUFFERING with extreme anxiety. It's hell. Tell your cousin himself that you have some friends like him..and that they qualify for disability due to their anxiety..and maybe he will take that step.

5 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:33 am

jjc02d


Thanks, what is HFA? My mom really thinks he has schizophrenia, she has worked as a nurse for 30 years, and 15 were in neuro. I had a friend that had a break last year and we haven't seen him since, he just literally disappeared.

I also found out last night in talking to my other Aunt that my cousin's dad possibly has AS himself. My cousin hasn't seen him for years.

Oh and were you talking about ss disability for AS or for Schizophrenia?

6 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:33 am

csweepigirl

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Both diagnoses would qualify someone for Social Security Disability

7 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:48 pm

KelleyNNelson

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jjc02d wrote:Thanks, what is HFA?

I don't know a thing about schizophrenia, so I can't really help you there. But,

HFA=High Functioning Autism.

This is what my son has, and when I said that your cousin sounded a bit like my son grown up, I meant it. In his younger years and before school (pre-k. He starts kindergarten in the fall.), he was entirely antisocial and didn't talk much, if at all (he didn't speak until he was nearly 2 1/2) and when he did talk it was all echolalia (repeated from things he'd heard from TV, conversations, etc.) and not original speech, but when he was thrust into a social situation daily, he warmed up to being social, especially when around kids kinda low key and like him. Recently, while he doesn't always seek it out, if he sees someone who looks like he thinks might be a good friend, he will attempt to make friends with someone. But when thrust into large groups, he still prefers to ignore everyone else and play by himself. Which, you have to understand that is a huge improvement because 2 years ago, if he saw a large group, he'd turn into a ball of jelly on the floor and have a instant meltdown because it was way too much stimuli for him.

His language skills exploded after 2 years of pre-k, and he will talk your ear off now, given the chance even if he doesn't know you all that well, but like you say, it's always one sided and he avoids questions you ask him and prefers to tell you about the make and models of his cars or what state license plates he's seen that day, etc. He will even tell you what questions to ask him.... lol. While his language skills are finally nearly normal for his age level, they really still aren't quite right, and I'm sure you know what I mean.

I am just now finding out that I myself likely have aspergers, which is likely where Richard got his Autism from. AS is more common in girls, Autism is more common in boys. At least that's the statistics I've seen. If your family has a history of AS, there's likely a history of autism as well... it's really only recently come to the forefront and the higher functioning or milder versions of Autism in children/people were really always just considered odd or different, nothing medically wrong with them. We now know different.

Sorry... You'll quickly learn that when I type, I tend to babble a lot. But not so much in speech. Unless I know you well. I'm done now. Wink

8 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:28 am

KelleyNNelson

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Actually, I'll just take out the parts of your original post and leave in the ones that describe my son. That'd be much easier.


jjc02d wrote: has average intelligence, but hated attending school (I believe because he hated interacting with other students)

When talking to him he can converse extensively about a topic (he fixates on things) without a real purpose behind it and most of our conversations are very long, but he talks about nothing. Also when I try to make the conversation interactive he has a very difficult time keeping it going. When I ask him tough questions he often attempts the blatantly change the subject without even acknowledging the question. He can even become unreasonably angry and upset which also can be scary (as if he could cause serious harm to someone). With all this said, he desperately wants to have a meaningful friendship! He clings tightly to any positive interactions he has, but has lacks the empathy to make a friend.

he is OVERLY sensitive to loud noise, and stimuli, uncomfortable in his own skin, very little to no confidence and self esteem, wakes up abnormally, has odd skills weird voice inflection at times, unable to set goals, and occasional starring.

When we are around other people you can tell he tries to hide some of his oddness (but still seems odd), but it comes out a lot more around just me or especially his mom, basically people he his comfortable around. He knows he is different.

Sorry to keep coming back to this... I was just amazed at the description of your cousin vs. how my son (who just turned 5 in march, by the way) is, even with the age gap. It's simply amazing. To me, at least.

9 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:47 am

jjc02d


Thanks Kelley. One thing that I did find out was that he had no developmental problems with his language as a 2-5 yr/old. I should also say my cousin didn't like the interaction with other students because they picked on him, not because he didn't want to try to interact with them or wasn't interested.

I didn't really get to know him until he was around 9 when he moved to the same area. I would say that he didn't exihibit a lot of these characters till he got older. For instance, the stuff in that paragraph that begins "When talking to him he can converse..." I really didn't start to notice that until he was about 17 or so and it seems to match the signs of adult AS.

I was talking to my other Aunt the other day and gave me a great example of the reaction to noise. She told me when he was 18 and in town for the 4th of July. A neighbor was having a little fireworks show and the family went to go see it. Immediately the fireworks began and he screamed and said he couldn't take it and ran inside. She said the whole thing was really bizarre especially for his age, but it makes sense now.

I also will say when he was younger he didn't realize the way he was behaving was bizarre. So his behavior came out really no matter who he was around.

I also found out when he was around your sons age he used to be obsessed with ceiling fans. He also used to twist his fingers so that they overlapped each other and also did hand flapping.

Just wanted to give you some info about what I knew about him when he was closer to your sons age.

10 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:53 am

csweepigirl

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Sounds like Autism

11 Re: I NEED your HELP!! on Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:41 am

melissa


Hi, I know I am a little late joining in on this discussion, put my brother who is 27 has Aspergers. My mom is a huge hurdle, as well as my brother himself. Just now he is starting to realize that he needs and wants help, and it has been about 6 years since his diagnosis. I have begged my mom to take him to an Autism specialist, but she doesn't think it is that bad. She took him to pychologists, but they couldn't help. She tried a special diet, but he hated it and it didn't help anyway. Overcoming the "mom" hurdle is probably something your cousin will have to deal with. My brother first had to acknowledge that he had aspergers. There was a lot of denial at first, but the more information we found the more clear the diagnosis became. However my parents still don't seem to think it is serious enough to take him to a specialist. Then just about a month ago my brother came to live with me. I am pregant with my fifth child and had really bad morning sickness. My brother came to help me with my other kids. Out of the blue he told my husband and I that he was worried. He did not want to grow old alone. He finally has made the decision for himself that he wants help. So my husband and I told him we would help as much as we can. As for your cousin, break it to him gently. It is very overwhelming when someone tells you that you have autism even if it is high functioning. He is going to have to decide for himself that the diagnosis fits, and if he wants help. It took my brother 6 years to decide that he needs the help. I'm sure that if you give you cousin some basic infoabout Aspergers that he will be able to know if that is what he is dealing with or not, but then you will just need to be supportive. If he is willing to get help great, but he might need a while for it to sink in.

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