Adult son concern

Found my way here having searched the topic and read about similar concerns. Really impressed with the support!

I am trying to navigate worry over my adult son (early 20s). It’s been clear for a while he is not “neurotypical”. His sib recently diagnosed adult ADHD, and I’m sure that’s it. He is a graduate with a good degree but currently not keeping jobs.

He looks unkempt, won’t shower. Says when challenged on this that the more people say it, the less likely he is to do it.
He is painfully thin: suspect not eating related to money worries.
His style of dress is outlandish, he gets comments in the street.
He is deep in debt: impulse spending (rounds of beer for his friends, nothing wild…but he is broke and admits he spends far too much going out)

I’m a guarantor for his rent and we have bailed him out financially when he called in a panic last week; besides that I am legally obliged to pay his rent. He expresses guilt about this and promises to make it all good.

He expresses overwhelm when trying to talk through his priorities for coming out of this situation. I think he is scared. He did get sent home early from his job this week with a panic attack.

His friends are moving ahead with their lives and some of them very successfully, and this feeds his sense of lack of self worth, as he is unable to stick to anything, there is much he wants to do but he can’t focus. Some of this might be constitutional, some might be panic spiral.

BUT (and this is good, of course) he says we need to leave him to become an adult, we can’t live his life for him, he needs to sort this out.

I’m helping him with the steps required for a diagnosis of ADHD if present, I think he would benefit from medication. Given the waits I am happy to fund this privately: I did for his sib and it has helped.

I am doing a bit of life coaching by text, just giving him two top priorities for action every day as something to hang on to in the face of his own overwhelm/panic.

…and lying awake at night having panics of my own!

Questions really are: how much help is too much? At what point do we say no more financial bail out (other than rent which we have to pay, until his tenancy runs out)? How do I cope with my own fears and catastrophising? I can see a potential scenario of us withdrawing and him ending up on the streets or taking his own life. I can rationalise that this is unlikely, but not at 3am.

I agree with him that he needs to become an adult on his own terms, but he is approaching crisis right now. Hard not to reach out a hand to help.

Thanks for reading this far. Grateful for the advice from anyone who has been through this.

Hello Veronica and welcome to the forum.
I have one son age 28 who has mild Asperger’s. He is very intelligent but has not been able to hold a job down for more than a few days due to social anxiety. He is on medication for anxiety and depression. He still lives at home but does help look after his gran.
From reading your post it sounds like you are doing all the right things. Your son knows you’re there if he needs you and it seems he is trying really hard to succeed.
Was it his idea to leave home?
All you can do is to continue to support him. Encourage him to talk to you about everything - his feelings, his friends, his problems and when things go well. Make a fuss of him and let him know how much you love him.

Hi Veronica,
I don’t have experience of caring for an adult son with suspected ADHD/ mental health issues; I care for S who has autism and related LD.
Others on here do have experience and will hopefully be along to give advice.

Your son coped well at school and got the results he needed to go on to higher education. At Uni he also coped well and got his degree. Did he get extra support? School and home life have him routine, structure and boundaries as a child. What helped him at Uni? Just trying to tease out if anything from his uni experience/ life style could be transferred across?

It sounds like you are giving him excellent support - the two top priorities for action, help to get a diagnosis etc. The rent as you say is done to the contract.


In the time it’s taken me to type this - Karen has responded.

You need to take control of his finances if you are paying his rent.
One has to be conditional on the other.

What is his degree subject?
What work is he doing?

Dear Veronica_2109
Hi Veronica. I am Kristie an online community forum host for Carers UK. I am sorry that you have found it difficult looking after your adult son. Im sure that there are other members in your position on the forum and will be able to help you. I am going to give you the telephone number for Carers UK helpline which hopefully you will be able to get advice from them.
So, welcome to the forum. You are not alone in your caring role we are sure that many on here will understand exactly how you feel and will offer you support. Caring can be very lonely and the pandemic has made caring responsibilities challenging as many carers have been socially restricted and unable to attend social groups etc.
Carers UK are running online weekly meet ups for carers and you can find the information on how to register at Care For A Cuppa:-Online meetups | Carers UK. There is a second weekly online meet up called Share And Learn:-Share and Learn | Carers UK.
Our Telephone Number is 0808 808 7777 and we are open from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am-6pm. Our Email Address is:-(
They provide information and guidance to unpaid carers. This covers:-
-Benefits And Financial Support
-Your Rights As A Carer In The Workplace
-Carers Assessments And How To Get Support In Your Caring Role
-Services Available To Carers And The People You Care For
-How To Complain Effectively And Challenge Decisions
I hope you find the above helpful.
Best Wishes

Just popping back to say thanks for the kind words and support: it was really helpful at a low moment. Son is taking steps to get a psych referral, and we wait. Best wishes, all

That sounds positive. Thanks for updating us, Veronica. Hope he doesn’t have to wait too long.