Monday, March 27, 2023

Living With An Autistic Young Man

He won’t let me take his picture! 

My son has always been one of the best people I know. He is kind, considerate, loves his family, can talk to anyone and knows everyone on the block. All our neighbors find him polite and sweet. While he is all these things he is also not interested in anything unless it is his interests, doesn’t understand many things, is a gamer who only socializes with fellow gamers but only online. He doesn’t have any “real” friends who are looking for him to do anything except game. The social pragmatic communication disorder is his biggest hurdle. 

This weekend we had an argument. We were in the car while I was driving him to his training. He will be working on the weekend starting this weekend. He went through a lot of money in the past three months. ALL of his money from savings and checking. He spent it on what else; gaming. I made him put $100 in each of his accounts using cash he had in his bank so that there would be something in his account.  We have talked about his spending before but I saw that he was starting to take money out again knowing he would have a paycheck soon.

I asked why he was taking money out and he said for lunch. I reminded him that he told me the business provides lunch on Tuesday. He said “Yes, they do provide it but I have to pay for it.” I told him that provides in this context would mean they give you lunch.” Him being able to understand basic things is where his disability is most seen.

He didn’t want to talk about it at all. “You don’t understand”, “You don’t get it.” “I’ve already told you?” “I know what I am doing, etc. I explained that saving his money is important and that although he should be able to spend some on his interests if he ever wants to have his own place, buy things for himself, support himself he will have to learn how to budget and asked him to once again explain what he is spending his money on.

We got heated when he decided not to explain, insisting that he already had and that I don’t understand. My husband is an undiagnosed autistic. I only understood this after my son was 15 and realized that the things I was seeing in my son was also what I was seeing in my husband. The things that my husband said and did that used to break my heart weren’t because of him being an asshole but his social pragmatic issue. 

The conversation was heated, my daughter was at a sleepover so I had spent the night with two guys who were not talkers and sit on computers all night. My head hurt from the conversation and the loneliness of being without my daughter so a silent night. I told him that I needed conversation and it was alright to answer my questions, that I am his mother and was asking a legitimate conversation and wanted to understand his side. When he got louder and kept telling me that he was done talking. I said (something I am not proud of) “you know what, I am tired. I cannot live with two people who don’t talk unless they want to. That I understand you both don’t like to talk about things that aren’t interesting to you but I need more conversation. Neither of you  want to do anything but sit at your computer. Neither of you are loving or affectionate.  When your sister leaves, I should just go with her and let you guys figure it all out on your own.”

He told me that was fucked up and I shouldn’t say that. I knew we were getting closer to his job so I tried to de-escalate his mood by telling him how I worried about him and want him to have a good life where he is doing what he wants, his money, friends, a nice place to live. 

We had calmed down a bit. It was time for him to get out of the car. He got out and said, “Something you said really fucked up my head!” He slammed the door and walked away.

I want him to be upset. I want to know that he understands the words that I am saying, paying attention to life and not just existing. He heard me. Was it the best conversation we have ever had. NO! I know that. But parenting is not always quiet and perfect. Sometimes it is friggin hard and loud. Sometimes we cannot pussy foot around. He is a 20 year old man in two months. He needs to get out of his little boy bubble where mommy and daddy take care of everything and he just does whatever he wants. 

As I drove away, I thought whelp that was something. I had Siri text quick to find out his pick up time and he wrote back 2:30 THEN….

Him: IDK I feel disgusted with myself with how I walked away. That was unnecessary of me. 

Me: It’s okay! Don’t worry about it. We were heated and mad. We can talk later.

Him: It’s my own fault.

Me: Sometimes people need to talk honey. They can’t make changes and understand each other without communication.

Him: I Understand but I like care about you deeply. If someone said anything about you I would step in and put them in their place. I love you mom but you don’t have to apologize, it’s not your fault.

(I know this was his understanding about me saying he isn’t loving.)

Me: Thanks honey. We were both heated and not in the best character. I love you and will see you later. Have a good day.

Him: I love you too. Thank you. You too.

The text message warmed my heart because it was such a mature thing to do. We were not talking about what had happened. We were talking about a pick up time. It was important because I know he understood the conversation. He heard me. Really heard me. 

When he got in the car later. We hugged. I told him his text was very mature and how proud of him I was that he was able to see that this conversation wasn’t an argument like he thinks all conversations are. That we need to have conversations so we can understand each other. 

When we got home we went our separate ways doing the things that needed to be done. He checked in with me a few times. Hanging outside with me. Hanging in my room with me. Conversing about weather yard work, the cats. It is a baby step but I LOVED every moment of our time together. His birth was the best day of my life. He is one of the best people I know. He speaks from his heart and that already is a step above most people.


  1. This is so sweet! Yeah, as you say, parenting isn't always easy, and sometimes it is really rough and twisty, but it's those moments where you see some real result of your hard work and uncomfortable conversations and fights that make it all worth it. I'm happy for both of you!

  2. Such a heartwarming story! Yeah, parenting is almost never smooth or easy, but it's moments like this that make you feel like it's worth doing. Good job, Mom!


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