16 year old CAHMS querying autism


I was hoping to get some advice on my 16 year old.

His teenage years have been quite challenging and i have been aware that his behaviour and habits have become quite different to that of his peers. He was always a very sociable child, with a wide circle of friends, participated in sport, enjoyed parties/ sleepovers etc… when he hit 13 he started to withdraw, became more angry and very awkward to deal with day to day.

When he first went to comp he remained social in the first year, went to the odd party, shopping in town with freinds, cinema but by the second year that all stopped and he doesnt stay in contact with school friends hardly at all now out of school.

Over the last 6 months he has developed severe social anxiety and now i struggle to get him to leave the house. He uses online gaming as an escape and has a few online freinds that he has regular contact with and has met up with on a few occassions now, but no real actual friends.

GP referred to Cahms as his anxiety has led to poor sleep, which led him to ask for help from GP. He recognises his anxiety but wont talk to me about it.

We had his initial cahms assessment this week and therapist thinks he has high funcioning autism - which for alot if reasons would make sense . My son refutes this and has declined the therapy to help his anxiety and refuses any attempt at a diagnosis, because he is 16 - i apparrantly have no say in this?? I am now stuck as a single mum with a 16 year old that wont leave the house, wont engage with me, cant sleep at night so sleeps all day but cahms say they cant help if he doesnt want it - does anyone else have any similar experiences of autism only becoming apparent at this age? and what do i do if he wont engage? I cant leave him as he is, im scared for his future…

Hi Purple,
sorry I must have missed your post before.

He is properly in shock, he went to the GP because he wasn’t sleeping, had a referral and they said he most likely had autism!! No wonder he is in denial.

Its going to take time for him to get his head round this and to be honest, unless he is willing to learn about his condition and how to deal with it, the diagnosis wont help him anyway. On the other hand, the more you learn about it, the more you will be able to put strategies in place to support him, The National Autistic Society is a good place to start. Adults
They also have a magazine, you could print off a copy or make sure it is emailed to your son each month, hopefully he might be curious and take a peek 404

Your local area might have an Autism Team who can support your son’s school to meet his needs and support his return to school.



Hi, very similar situation to yours with diagnosis of my son at 17. The signs were always there, he had obsessive interests but I put his social awkwardness down to shyness and his occasional outbursts down to stress. He always had a couple of good friends but although he wants to be popular he “doesn’t like people".

After getting lower than expected GCSE results he suffered massive depression fell in with a bad group and started smoking cannabis, which just made everything worse. He hated us with a passion and was often hurtful. We paid for counselling, at this point I was starting to wonder about autism and they also flagged adhd (I had queried with primary school about this but because it was attention deficit rather than hyperactivity, his behaviour was “good” they said no). Finally CAMHS confirmed high functioning autism, mild ADHD, depression and anxiety.

My son, luckily, was very engaged & fascinated by the whole counselling process and has done really well. From seeing himself on the scrap heap with bad results he is now the star Distincton student at college as he’s funnelled his obsession in a positive direction ( with the help of ADHD medication)

At school the kids use the term special as a derogitive term but we choose to look at it in a different way. I strongly believe that anyone who is brilliant will be on the spectrum somewhere, it’s what gives them that focus to do such wonderful things. So for a tech obsessed boy, the people who have made his passions possible. Bill Gates (Microsoft) Steve Jobs (Apple) Mark Zuckerberg(Facebook). It is difficult to know where introvert ends and autism begins because being exhausted by social interaction is a symptom of both.

I’m not saying a diagnosis is the cure but it helps massively in dealing with it - he still has a meltdown when stressed but counselling has helped him control it quicker. He knows not to get hungry, tired, be careful if he feels under the weather… We still argue about cannibis, he has two friends one of whom I am sure is also on the spectrum and has found someone he works well with at college.

Son no 2 has just left school, still waiting for CAMHS hasn’t spoken to friends or left his room since and spends all his time on YouTube and xbox (where like your son he has a couple of friends) I have to be honest the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree both I and my husband are possibly on the spectrum somewhere and struggle socially.

I think it’s a good idea to tell school/college but your son doesn’t need to tell anyone else if he doesn’t want to. I think high functioning autistic people naturally gravitate towards interesting people with the same traits and, as I point out to my son, the only difference between him and them is he has the diagnosis