Learning That My Adult Son Has Aspergers Syndrome

A perfect example of how Asperger's Syndrome effects those who struggle with it themselves and how it becomes a barrier for the loved ones around them.
A perfect example of how Asperger's Syndrome effects those who struggle with it themselves and how it becomes a barrier for the loved ones around them.

A Different Approach to Life

My son, David, who is 23 years old, never played with toys as a child but has always loved anything electronic or electrical. Whether I bought a new small kitchen appliance or the newest electronic gadget, he had to be the first to turn it on and see how it worked. He never liked playing or interacting with other children. He was always off to the side doing his own thing. When he watches TV, it is usually only 2 channels; the Syfy channel and the Food Network. When he drives the car, he listens to the same CD over and over. When it comes to eating, he finds one food he likes and eats that food item for months at a time. For instance, it was salad for years, easy mac for months at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and now it is homemade waffles. Sometimes he will become so fixated on a project that he will go a whole day without eating.

When he was in school, his grades were average and some of his teachers would occasionally comment that he likes working by himself. At the time, I didn't see it as a problem. He did have a few problems that did come up. When he was in Head Start, his teacher came up to me in tears saying, "He is the only child who has made me cry. He has been trying to learn to jump rope all day and has been blaming me because he struggles with it". In second grade, his teacher got so frustrated with him he grabbed him by the arm so hard, pushed him up against the wall, screaming at him that it scared the other children. Thank goodness that teacher was suspended from teaching because of his reaction toward David. He didn't have the patience or understanding to work with him. He was a pretty good student, he would just get overly frustrated and have a bit of a melt down on occasion.

Now that he is older, my hope is that he would be living a life surrounded with friends, experiencing new adventures and trying to become self-sufficient and independent. Inevitably, it hasn't been that easy. Getting him through the day can be like trying to push a boulder up a mountain. He just won't budge. He is very literal and becomes very frustrated when he doesn't know his schedule for that day.

Finding an accurate diagnosis

David was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. He is very bright, learns quickly, and is very self-sufficient when he sets his mind to it. He is tall and handsome but carries himself as though he lacks self confidence. I always knew he struggled with social issues and was very strong willed, but I just thought it was his personality. I would just have to accept his quirky behaviors as part of his personality. It wasn't until 2 yrs. ago that I became aware of Asperger's Syndrome. I was talking to a friend of mine who mentioned that her husband was just diagnosed with it and began sharing the symptoms. The more she explained, I started to hear the similarities.

When he was 18 yrs. old, he started expressing how he felt different from others and didn't understand why he was feeling so disconnected from the rest of the world. David didn't form friendships very easily, but when he did, he would stick close to that one friend faithfully. It seemed that friend happened to have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), which seemed to be a common diagnosis among his peers as he was growing up. He had convinced himself that he also had ADD. Since he didn't have insurance, he decided to go the State Health Department to get a diagnosis. The first diagnosis was that he was spoiled and disrespectful. The counselor who saw him just thought he needed to grow up so she recommended that he go to her counseling sessions.

The other diagnosis he received were that he was just depressed, then he was bipolar, and finally he had ADD. For the next few years he was treated for the ADD, but he still struggled with the same social problems. He even had less ambition than before taking medication.

Finally, he was getting health insurance so we decided to have him consult a specialist who is familiar with Aspergers Syndrome. In my research, I spoke with one psychologist who immediately tried to diagnose him over the phone stating,"It sounds like he's just depressed." After hearing that comment, I realized the importance of using an experienced specialist.

Having a proper diagnoses, has been a relief for both David and myself. It has been hard enough going day to day not understanding why David struggles with simple and proper communication, building relationships and having the ambition to experience daily living practices.

Before seeing a specialist, my son and I found an Aspie test online. We both decided to take it so we could get a general idea of where we fall on the spectrum. It is the best one I have found yet. It is worth checking out if you may be concerned you or a loved one may also have Asperger's Syndrome.

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's Syndrome is a milder form of Autism. It is sometimes considered " the little professor" or "geek" syndrome. It is a neurological developmental disorder that affects social and communication skills . They have obsessive behaviors and become very frustrated when their routine is interrupted and environment is chaotic. They are sometimes physically clumsy and sensitive to loud noises,touch, and abrupt movements. They may have unusual facial expressions, awkward body posture and often look depressed.

Because of their social awkwardness, they are bullied in school and misunderstood by family and peers. Because they lack appropriate communication skills, they get very frustrated and have melt downs.

John Elder Robison - Growing up with Asperger's Syndrome

Adapting to the Surroundings

It is often very hard to diagnose Asperger's Syndrome until adolescence or young adulthood. The more people become aware of the characteristics of Asperger's, the easier it is on the child, the parents, and the educators. There is not any kind of cure or remedy, however, you can change the approach to the way you communication with him or her, create schedules, improve environmental factors, and practice more patience and understanding when problems arise.

For instance, David was getting jobs here and there in retail and the fast food business which put him in front of the general public. He never lasted long because of the social aspect of the job. He did get a job working in an office as tech support and did great. When it came to sports, he couldn't do anything as a team, nor throw or catch any kind of ball because of coordination and social interaction. He has tried skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking and rock climbing and does well because it is an individual sport and he fixates on the accomplishment of going from point A to point B. He just lacks the ambition and the confidence to pursue adventurous activities .

Since he has all of the life skills needed for independence but struggles with organization and consistency, we found it helpful to create set schedules for household duties, recreation, projects, and travel. It seem to keep the frustration level down and makes the communication a little easier.


Finding Resources

It has been very difficult as a parent trying to connect with my son but now that he has a diagnosis, I don't blame myself for his behaviors. I feel like we have a new start with a better understanding of his needs. To help me see a little into his world, my son and I have found that we love to watch the TV show "The Big Bang Theory" together. He can relate to the character "Sheldon Cooper". It brings our differences a little closer and keeps us laughing together.


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Comments 12 comments

Lynn 3 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing your pain and knowledge. My adult son struggled in the school system from the very beginning. I became his advocate, insisting on testing (he is very intelligent, but couldn't complete assignments, couldn't form friendships, hated going to school, was always alone and discouraged, became very depressed at an early age and developed severe anxiety in most social settings), and got diagnosis ranging from bipolar to ADD to underachieving, you name it, nothing seemed to fit and nothing suggested seemed to help. He gave up on the system, but it gave up on him from the start. As an adult, he is still struggling to find a place to fit in. It has been so disheartening and such a long uphill climb, with no solution in sight. I've never stopped searching for a way to help him, but after reading your article I have to found a ray of hope and maybe a solution. I am very excited for his possibilities since we can finally relate to someone else out there and will acquire a correct diagnosis thereby finding likeminded folks with experiences and ideas that can help him feel like he belongs somewhere.


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thanks for reading. Having a proper diagnosis is a relief, but there is still so much to learn.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I am glad you finally found a diagnosis. That seems awful to keep getting the wrong diagnosis.


jimmar profile image

jimmar 4 years ago from Michigan

Well done!


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thanks for sharing your experience also. The more I learn about Asperger's Syndrome, the better I can understand him. It has helped him knowing that others view life similar to him and he is not alone. I'm happy to know this has been helpful.


Gareth Pritchard profile image

Gareth Pritchard 4 years ago from North Wales

Thank you very much for sharing this information it has been very helpful and enlightening. I have 3 learning difficulties that where diagnosed by an educational psychologist but I have since working with people and learning about those with Asperger's Syndrome thought I have some of these traits as well. The Aspie-quiz confirms my thinking and is very helpful.

I work with people generally and I have often thought why do I work with people when I am not a very people orientated person, in most of my personal time I can't be bothered with them.

Thank you again for your very helpful hub, Gareth.


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

It sounds like you had a great psychologist. I like that approach. I think educators need to be more aware of different behaviors so they can be better prepared to help their students. The communication between parent and teacher so very limited. Thanks for sharing your experience and best to you and your son also.


kingmaxler profile image

kingmaxler 4 years ago from Olympia, Washington USA

I think that you were lucky to find a diagnosis that fit. My son had debilitating anxiety when he was young. I did not get help in the public school system. I was treated as though he was a bad or lazy kid. He was neither. I took him to a psychologist who did not want to label him, but instead gave him tools to aid him. Not every child fits in the "normal" way of pushing children through school. I appreciate your hub and may your son find his place in the world of men.


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thanks for reading! My hope is that others will be able to recognize signs so they can get the help they need for their children sooner in life. It can be a sensitive subject and I am not an expert on the topic, but we have experienced the struggles that comes with it.


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thanks for your input! I wish he had a diagnosis sooner. I think we would have a better relationship and he would be a little more successful transitioning into adulthood. It is a struggle and there is a lot to learn yet. I glad to hear you and your son can embrace his differences.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Thanks for bringing this condition to light. I had never heard of it. There may be many more people out there being misdiagnosed and being treated for other conditions like you described happened to your son. Great Hub!


ananceleste profile image

ananceleste 4 years ago from California

Oh my lord! Bless you for publishing this article. You have described the struggles that my son (15) is starting to have. It breaks my heart to see him suffering because people are starting to notice that he is different. I don’t know how to mitigate his pain. But as I find more people that can relate with this, I hope to have the tools to help him.

We watch that show too. Many of our family members say that my son is the inspiration for Sheldon, he just smiles and says that he hopes to be a Professor at the Smithsonian instead of a physicist.

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