My son is 26 years old and has autism with learning difficulties. He was at two different residential settings in the space of 12 years, however the transition afterwards was not smooth. He moved back home in 2017, and for a year we didn’t receive any support. Since this time we are struggling to get the right support for him. We are getting 15 hours a week from the council now, however the support workers that we are getting are not fully qualified in working with autistic people. My family and I are struggling to handle his day to day issues such as hygiene and him getting the correct nutrition. Since the first lockdown in 2020, he has lost the confidence to go out often. Also, since this time, he has also grown an unhealthy obsession of astrology and Tarot cards. He calls different “astrologers” around the world, who are usually scammers taking advantage of him being vulnerable and using it as easy money.
He has been talking to a tarot card reader for three days and she said that he will receive a message from his “soul mate” etc. This obviously did not happen and now Rahul believes that they “did not do the right spell”. Now he is more frustrated. I am sick worried that this “astrologer” has threatened my son somehow and I am worried about his mental health due to this. If we refuse to give him the money to pay these “psychics” he throws big tantrums which effect the family.
The social worker we have is aware of all these issues and came to do a review in September, however, even after sending multiple emails, from Rahul’s councillor and support workers side, we have not received any report or support. I would like this sorted before it gets too late. I would really appreciate your support.
Hi Raxa, thanks for messaging the Forum. Just to let you know I removed your surname from your post for your own security.
I’m sure your fellow carers will have experience to share, but one thing to raise is that you might be able to escalate the issues that your son is using if you raise them as a ‘safeguarding alert’ with social services as this can be viewed as financial abuse.
In terms of his ‘special interest’ in astrology, some autistic people can be encouraged to pursue their interests in ways that are less risky or harmful (eg reading books rather than calling numbers), but different approaches work with different people. A starting point might be to read this article Obsessions and repetitive behaviour - a guide for all audiences, but there is a lot of information out there on this topic.
This is absolutely a safeguarding issue and the social worker should include you in any discussions as you have raised the concern. I’d start by chasing the social worker for a response and if no joy, speak to your local councillor. Now comes some advice you may not want to hear, but it’s something you need to think about, whatever you decide to do:
You will almost certainly need for the social worker to carry out a mental capacity assessment so that a best interests decision can be made.
This is a lot to take in right now, but mental capacity is determined by four steps about each decision to be made:
Taking in the facts needed to make the decision and understanding them
Retaining the facts long enough to make the decision
Assessing the pros and cons and using the facts to make the decision
Communicating the decision.
Each of those steps has to be successfully carried out. The problem, especially with people who have autism, is that they often skip number 3 because their obsessions drive their decision making. It’s also the one you’re most likely to have problems with where the social worker is concerned. This is because they often do not understand obsessive behaviour, and will say that it’s ok for your son to make a bad decision. Whilst that is true, he has still to go through the process - and his obsessions bypass it.
But if you can show that he is not making an informed decision - “informed” is the key word - then the people involved in the capacity assessment can come to a best interests decision about access to funds for Astrology. And once that’s been agreed and communicated, you can make it clear to him that this is not going to happen any more. Yes, he’s likely to get upset - but with professional support this will hopefully pass.
You may need to talk to the social worker about a Deputyship, assuming you haven’t gone down this road. That is even more complicated and best discussed with an advice agency - Citizens Advice or a Carers Centre/other organisation - or a social worker.
As good as we old carers are, we might forget something important and we never, ever know enough about your circumstances to give a perfect response.