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How do I help my 20 year old step son to socialise?

KBellKBell Member Posts: 5 Listener
My live in partner has a 20 year old Autistic son. His mentality is of a 8/9 year old but he is a big strapping lad. We have him every other weekend from Friday till Sunday as well as his 10 year old daughter.
My partner is the typical dad where feels guilty for not being around 24/7 like he use to and only spending a Wednesday and every other weekend with the kids.
We have only been together as a couple for 15 months and both kids would originally come every weekend from Thursday-Sunday, this for me became far too much as we both work full time and myself shifts and regularly working my days off. 
The mother lets everyone else do the work and she claims everything possible. A month ago I put an end to this and explain to my partner this can't continue.
I will call the son James for now... He is shipped off to the mothers parents every day with NO interaction with people his own age/mentality etc. He sits all day playing on his laptop for hours on end. The same thing happens here in my home at the weekends and I DO NOT agree this is healthy at all. All James does is want to eat, play on the laptop and when not doing those pacing around the house as he doesn't know what to do with himself.
Personally I feel he has no people skills, no reality of life as that has not been taught the basics from a young age.
Harsh as it maybe I have explained to my partner this stops now as he needs more support. I want to support James as much as possible in every day life.  Where do you begin as this is all new to me also.

Thanks for listening as this has taken me while to compose and voice my option.


  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    edited December 2016
    Hi @KBell welcome to the community.

    I can imagine that coming into this situation must be difficult, to understand James' needs and care and where you fit into the decision making must be a tough one.

    Autistic people have lots of different coping strategies that may not seem to make sense to a non-autistic person but it doesn't necessarily make it wrong.

    Perhaps you could try and educate yourself more about Autism so you can feel confident in understanding and living with him? The National Autistic Society has lots of information with a whole section for parents and their is a parent to parent service helpline that is free from landlines and most mobiles (3, O2, Orange, T-mobile, Virgin and Vodafone) on 0808 800 4106.

    We have lots of autistic people on the community as well as lots of parents and carers of children with ASD so I hope you can hear some of their experiences and that will help you.

    Senior online community officer
  • KBellKBell Member Posts: 5 Listener
    I read up on Autism all the time and realise there isa HUGE spectrum. I have said to my partner I don't feel he does enough for his son in the way of encouraging other than to be stuck in a room on his own playing computer games.  The mother is worse than hopeless and is so unapproachable when my partner suggests things.  Feels like a loosing battle. I feel like I'm the only one who really cares about his welfare. Later on in life the grandparents won't always be there, then what will happen. My partner seems to bury his head in the sand as won't stand up to his ex. The only person gaining from this is the ex. 
  • KBellKBell Member Posts: 5 Listener
    My partner has mentioned Residential care which would be fab for James and to set him up for later on in life. BUT where do you even begin.???
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 128 Pioneering
    Hi KBell,

    Oh dear.  It sounds like you may be approaching this from an unhelpful angle! Although it's abundantly clear that you have done so with very honourable intentions and are committed to ensuring James is secure and happy.  So I hope you'll take this on board in the spirit it's intended :)

    You may be completely right and with a bit of extra input perhaps James might be more keen to socialise within his family and beyond; just don't assume that it's a 'lack of input' that has made him this way.

    Some autistic people live their lives in what an NT (a neurotypical, someone without autism) would likely call a reclusive manner, and are perfectly happy that way.  As hard as it might be to understand, for some people, what we might call isolation doesn't automatically equal dissatisfaction or loneliness.   Conventional socialising and communication are perceived as normal/healthy- but what's normal for neurotypicals is sometimes completely unfathomable - and undesirable - for someone with autism.     You may need to accept that this is who James is, and no amount of 'input' chatter is suddenly going to break through the silence.  This is how he rolls. 

    In fact, social interaction might be really unpleasant and distressing for him. Some autistic people are happier socialising with people they know well - like parents etc - not everyone wants to hang out with people their own age.   As long as it's safe, it's fine. 

    Pacing is a common stim - don't assume he's anxious or unsettled.  He probably just likes doing it.  As long as it's safe...  

    His parents have got him this far - give them some credit for that (however much you might be privately a bit peeved about the ex) - they know him better than you do.   I understand your concerns in the long term (re your comments about grandparents) and everyone needs to have a plan for the future one way or another.  I think if you approached the subject from a viewpoint of building independent living skills and future planning, rather than criticising the parenting, then you may be met with a more positive reception than the 'burying heads in the sand'.   Really, James's wishes and aspirations that will be the centre of any decision making anyway.

    Have you read neurotribes by steve silberman?  read it! particularly the section on Cavendish.  He arguably had 'no reality on life' and everyone thought him odd - turns out he was weighing the world in his shed.     

    take care

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
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  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks so much @Scope_rosie and @DannyMoore - some great thoughts here!
    Senior online community officer
  • VioletFennVioletFenn Member Posts: 124 Pioneering
    Hi, @KBell. Perhaps everyone else is okay with the situation and it's just you that thinks things aren't being done 'right'? Plenty of autistic kids avoid social interaction, it's just how they are. Maybe James will be capable of living an independent life at some point, and maybe he won't. Either way, forcing him into uncomfortable situations or shipping him off into care (which isn't guaranteed to give him any more quality of life) is unlikely to help him. If his mental age really is that young in comparison to his 'actual' age then I would suggest that he needs supporting to simply be happy, rather than worrying about his life skills. 

    Honestly, I do know it's difficult when we see people parenting differently to how we'd like, but it really is entirely up to his mother and father as to how they do things - they've been his parents for far longer than you've been on the scene. As for his mother 'claiming everything possible' - well good for her, quite frankly. If there's help available she should take it. 

    I guess what I'm saying is that James is the important one here and it's the role of his parents (and supportive partners if they have them) to make sure he feels secure. Social skills come further down the priority list (if they're ever going to make an appearance at all). 
  • KBellKBell Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Sorry but I don't think it's right the mother claiming everything possible when she now has nothing to do with James. He doesn't live with her as he prefers to be else where than in her company as she is so toxic!!! ALL the money/Car mobility she claims she uses on herself , not one penny goes towards James.  Why should he loose out?? The Grandparents are elderly and they have James 24/7 unless with us. It's a loosing battle. I feel he is just shut away and forgotten about. If he was my child he certainly wouldn't be treated like that.
  • VioletFennVioletFenn Member Posts: 124 Pioneering
    My apologies - I'd mis-read and thought that James spent at least some of the time with his mother. In that case, no - she shouldn't be claiming for him, his grandparents should. 

    Would your partner put his neck out and say something, perhaps about any benefits being transferred to grandparents? Of course, if James is technically resident with his mother then that complicates things, and maybe a change of residency is worth thinking about. Unfortunately James is likely to need support and care for a very long time, and unless you and your partner are able to offer that full time yourselves, there is always going to be a limit to what input you can have.
  • KBellKBell Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Yeah I get that. The ex would never consider that as she's  got the life of riley without the consequences now. We both work very hard full time so it wouldn't be an option. Just very frustrating at times. Thanks for all the advice and for listening.
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