My other son


I have posted frequently in the past about my eldest son who is currently in residential care, supported for needs associated with autism and a long term mental health condition. However, I just need a little advice about caring for/supporting his brother, our youngest son.

My youngest son is 18. He received a diagnosis of GAD when he was 13 and began ‘refusing’ school. The school refusal went on until he formally left education two years ago. He received 5 hours of home tuition a week from a tutor sent by the LA, but in reality, he accessed less than half this provision because he locked himself in the bathroom when the tutor arrived. He also accessed some one to one tuition at a PRU when he was sitting his GCSEs. He achieved two GCSEs at grade 2 (old grade E).

Since then, he participated in a few weeks of a military preparation course and then gave this up and he has acquired two jobs and walked out of both these positions on the first day. He had an EHCP and attended a college course for a week, then stopped attending and was withdrawn from the course. For about two years, he has really done nothing.

He refuses to sign on for any benefits, because he feels he will be pressurised to undertake work, which he feels he cannot cope with or he will be classed as ‘disabled’ which may jeopardise his chances of joining the armed forces if he decides to do so.

He has a health anxiety and constantly questions me about whether I have a cold, whether I have been exposed to colds and so on. He also spends a lot of time wiping down work surfaces, checking switches to make sure they are turned off, checking my wardrobe to make sure there is no intruder there and so on. He has a rigid eating routine (weighing and measuring out his food, preparing his food alone, eating alone etc). He will not let me sit too close to him because he ‘feels moisture’ coming from my breath, but he will allow a night-time hug, as long as he is under the sheets!

He drives and has a small car, which I fund because he will not use public transport and he goes to the gym to work out for two hours a day.

My problem is that we seem to have reached a sort of stagnation. I hate to see this young man so isolated and trapped by routines, but I am also frustrated that I cannot help him and he will not seek or accept help for his anxiety. He was referred for an assessment for autism and a demand avoidant profile was mentioned, but he declined to pursue the assessment. He speaks quite negatively about his father and brother who have a diagnosis of autism and mental health conditions.

He is a very fit, strong young man with a strong need to control and I have adapted my routines to fit around his, and I feel this is unhealthy. I work largely from home, but I do have to go out to work for a few hours each week and during the time I am away, he will text me frequently to make sure I have not been in an accident and for confirmation that I will be returning soon. I would really like someone to support him, to help him re-engage with society, education, work and so on. My own efforts seem to have failed, but I do not know who to contact or what could be achieved if he simply will not see anyone.

I apologise for the thesis, but I just needed to get these feelings out in the open.

Is he seeing a therapist or not? This negative feeling about a disabled sister or brother etc is quite common particularly if the disability is severe enough. I recommend contacting a therapist or asking for a referral to the community mental health services or team. One way to cope is to use a notebook to allow him to record his feelings on paper. You can get cheap ones online or at your local bookshop. It might help him.
Why can’t he use public transport? Is he scared or something? Can you accompany him at first? I think it is time for a social worker to do a carers assessment. Ask him to participate in the assessment. The other alternative is a care home for young people. Mention that to him and watch his reaction. Does he have OCD?

Hello Thara,

Thank you for replying. You have come up with some helpful advice. My son does not have an official diagnosis of OCD, although his behaviour suggests that he could be experiencing something like OCD. He has had no therapeutic intervention since he was 15 or 16 because he refuses any sort of consultation or therapy. He had CBT when he was 15, but this ended because he would only stay in the sessions for 15 minutes and each session was scheduled for an hour. The therapist ended the sessions.

He does talk to me more about his feelings, but he insists that he is the only person who can do something about his situation and that he does not want any external help. We have had social services intervention in the past, with respect largely to my eldest son. However, my eldest wanted help and support, so I do not know how successful any enquiry would be if the individual will not accept support.

Hi Janet,
I think it is very hard to help someone with MH issues if they won’t engage with services. I agree that adapting how you do things to fit around him is an alarm bell. Would your son do online CBT and perhaps an online course in preparation for work? If he enjoys the gym, would sports/ recreation be a job/ career direction he’d find interesting?

II understand why you are funding his car, it means he goes to the gym everyday, however, it also means he has no incentive to stick at a job or to sign on. He needs to pay his way somehow and realise as an adult, life isn’t free. Could he earn his keep by using the car to run errands for you and do jobs at home?

Mrs Average’s son really struggled with anxiety and confidence, she developed strategies to ensure she didn’t enable him to stay stuck, but carefully engineered the situation to slowly edge him forward. It worked and he is now, holding down a job and she and her husband are confident enough about him to take an extended break abroad. Perhaps search and read some of her posts.


In terms of work, what about getting him to help you in the garden? Or maybe washing cars for cash?

How are you this week?