Single Dad ...Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed!


Single dad (nearly 57 - yikes) to 4 children:
Kid1 (19; ASD/Aspergers, ADD, severe depression & anxiety)
Kid2 (17; teenager - yuk!)
Kid3 (14; ADHD, ASD/Aspergers, Tourettes/tic disorder)
Kid4 (12; girl child - OMG!)
Dog1 (2; what was I thinking !!!)

I work full time (from home; even before covid). My ex-wife lives locally. But our relationship is poisonous. Kids have lived with me for the past 6 years, since we parted company. I am overweight (lots). I have had more than my fair share of depression/anxiety related personal issues, over the years. Currently, I am flat, tired, lacking energy and motivation …and kinda plodding on blindly, even though I can’t see the path in front of me at the moment.

My eldest son has a history of self harming and a couple of suicide attempts. Things aren’t as bad now as they were a couple of years back. But he rarely comes out of his room and can easily spend 20 hours plus in his bed. We get some support from Adult Mental Health Services & Mind. But, to be honest, I’ve run out of ideas. Feeling pretty lousy, 'cos he won’t get better (yeah, I know that’s a stupid thing to say) …and I just don’t seem to be able to help him.

I have CAMHS support for my younger boy and his school help as best they can with the bullying (kids don’t like different).

I had a Carers Assessment, just before the world shut down in March. So I haven’t been able to take advantage of any of their groups and sessions yet. Though, as I work full time, I’m limited in how much I can attend anyway.

That’s me. Just tired, demotivated, fed up, guilty, ashamed of some of the feelings of annoyance and frustration I have with my own children.

Just looking for someone with a magic wand please …or just a new idea that I haven’t tried a million times already, would do.


Hi Crazy Joe

Firstly, you have done an amazing job with four kids and two dogs for 6 years as a single parent.

I take my hat off to you.

I am also not surprised you feel as you do. You have more on your plate than most…and you manage to work full time too.

And everyone is feeling low at the moment on top of everything due to Covid.

I have two young people with additional needs one autistic and one with learning disabilities…and at times it gets on top of me.

My eldest is just about to move to supported housing…he is 24.

I just decided I wasn’t going to do it all for ever.

Luckily he agreed!

Does your ex wife help out?
Do you have any time to yourself at all (probably a silly question)
Do you sleep adequately?

All carers need a break…even small little ones to enable them to function well. My guesse is you are not getting enough.

Melly on here suggested a book the Selfish Pigs Guide to Caring which is very good and normalises the negative feelings us carers have.

So throw away any guilt you have for feeling the way you do.

Apologies for no magic wand though!

Your oldest son…i am just wondering if it is worth applying for an ehc plan your your oldest son. I am almost loath to suggest it as local authorities are reluctant to give them and parents end up appealing …
It stands for Education, health and Care plan.
We have one for our 24 year old .

It sounds like more ideas are needed to help him (and joined up professional support)…it could be a way forward.

Take a look at the information on ehc plans online.
If he couldn’t manage college he could try for an EOTAS package which is Education other than at school.

You can design your own bespoke package of support for your son…guided by professional reports .

As your son has severe depression and had self harmed, it would be worthwhile as part of the ehc plan process to request a clinical psychology assessment or psychiatric assessment, and OT assessment. (, sometimes LA 'S won’t do all the assessments requested and parents end up paying for them themselves).

It can involve Preparation for Adulthood outcomes., as mentioned It doesn’t have to necessarily be college .

I think the time may have come for specialist help if he is in his room all day that must get you down.

Or if you don’t want to go down that route has your son had a needs assessment by Social Services ?

What motivates your oldest son…

Does he like computers?

What helps him on a good day?

Hi Crazy Joe,

Welcome to the forum. Don’t know how you manage all that caring and working full time whilst be a single Dad … I just have one caree and that’s plenty.

I agree with Cloudygal’s advice.



Dog. Just the one …he’s 2 years old :blush:. I bought into the idea that he might be good for our mental wellbeing. The idea was that Kid1 would look after him. It didn’t work. After a couple of days (and sleepless nights) he begged me to take the dog away and succumbed to feelings of failure and inadequacy. Dog1 now sleeps on the floor in my bedroom and stares at me while I sleep. Seriously, it can be quite unnerving, waking up to see two eyes in the darkness. He’s part of the family now and Kid1 does get some pleasure out of sitting with him (and breaking every dog based rule, about sofas, scraps, jumping up, etc). He has no control over the dog whatsoever. But the relationship is uncomplicated and unconditional and he can dip in and out of it, depending on mood. So I guess it’s helping in the long run …just not as we’d planned.

Book. The Selfish Pigs Guide to Caring …is now on order. Thank you for the recommendation. Looks good. Gets rave reviews. Though I’m not sure when I’ll get the time to read it. But I will give it a shot. If nothing else, it can sit by my bed and make me at least look like the sort of person who reads books.

Negativity. Yeah, I mostly think “wow, what I do every day, just to keep this roller coaster on track is absolutely incredible”. But there is a louder voice saying “oh get over yourself man, so you’re raising 4 kids, big deal, people raise kids all the time, people deal with developmental disorders (and worse) all the time, people have bigger problems than you and just get on with it, without all the bleating and self-pity” …and so on. I mean, obviously not words I would ever dream of thinking about anyone else in my shoes. But always pretty near the surface, when it comes to myself. I’m guessing I’m not the first person on this forum to have said that :blush:.

Ex wife. Hmmm, it’s complicated. She takes the younger three, alternate weekends. But they’re never really gone. They come back to get face masks, raincoats, etc …and Kid1 is usually here anyway, in his bed. It sounds a bit silly. But even when I think the house is empty, I’m always aware that there could be a knock at the door at any moment “Hi dad, I just need to get …”. My ex won’t keep changes of clothes at her house. They always have to take everything they might need. I have to be very careful with her. I say “please could you not keep on dropping in when you have the children” …and she says “I’m sorry that you’re cold, but I can’t take you back to get a jumper because daddy will be angry. I don’t mind him being angry with me, but he shouldn’t be angry with you, just because you forgot something”. So I just provide as much safety and sanity as I can and trust/hope that as they grow up, they will see their own truths.

Motivation. There is nothing that I have been able to use to motivate Kid1. There are things that he likes …money, Internet usage, new phone, eating out, MTG card games, … But I can’t use them as motivators. He WILL NOT adapt his behaviour to gain something. He’ll accept the gain and be happy about it. But if he doesn’t want to do something, he won’t. No amount of bribery, encouragement, reasoning, explaining, or planning has any effect. When he can’t face something anymore, he simply stops / shuts down. When he was younger, I tried having battles with him, where I would take away his Internet, until he did something …and he would literally stay in his bed, staring at his wall, day after day after day. It’s like …never pick a fight with an aspie, you will always lose!

Supported housing. Yes. His care coordinator suggested that this might be a possibility and she was going to put his name on the list. My current working theory is:
i) the world is a scary place and he can’t cope with it
ii) as long as he lives here with me, he is protected from the world; he has food and shelter and love and Internet
iii) he chooses (probably unconsciously) not to face the world, because lying down and doing nothing is easier and safer
iv) the longer this goes on, the harder it is going to be for him to ever face the world
v) solution is to not live under the absolute protection of dad and the sooner that leap is taken, the better able he will be to cope
I can’t help but feel like I would be forcing him out …and to be honest, I don’t think he will go, without some nudging from my side. More guilt, even though I think it’s the right thing to do

EHCP. He started cutting during his GCSEs Attempted suicide and ultimately dropped out of his A levels towards the end of his first year. Has tried two different colleges since and dropped out after a few weeks both times. My understanding is that an EHCP might open up the possibility of free education for him again, which we had previously assumed we’d lost, the year he turned 19. But aren’t these impossible to get? I’ll be honest I’ve never looked into it. I was always told at his schools that he was high functioning and wouldn’t get one.

EOTAS. Never heard of it. I will look into it though. It sounds interesting. Thank you.

Joined up professional support. Yeah, it took me 10 years of fighting (including his mother) to get his diagnosis of autism. It took me 4 months, after he cut his wrist to get a follow up psych evaluation CAMHS and even then, only because I made a complaint to senior management. Adult mental health didn’t take us seriously until we ended up in A&E again with a cut I couldn’t close with steristrips. Whenever anything happens we get some intensive support for a few weeks, which then tapers off, while they go deal with a more serious emergency case. He’s rejected anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, ADD meds and even vitamin D supplements (he never goes outside). His sleep patterns are too erratic for medication, plus he forgets and with the best will in the world, I can’t force them down him every day. We have learned that after 3 days of withdrawal, he gets dizzy and falls over (also not helped by his vitamin D deficiency). A few months ago he started hiding his pills every day. I didn’t notice until he’d been cold turkey for around a week and a half. We’ve had some success with counselling. But, again, getting up and to the counsellor every week proved too stressful for him and he simply stopped going.

Yeah, I need more help with him. But I’m just not sure that it’s out there. The thing is, he functions, because he is safe in his home environment. It feels like the only way to get him to learn to function without my support, is to force him out …and, I’ll be honest, I feel pretty lousy about that prospect too.

Oh, woe is me, whinge whinge whinge! Ah, we survive. I just need someone in a big pointy hat and a long star crested gown to tell me what to do every now and then, 'cos I feel like I spend my life winging it and never quite hitting the right notes.


Crazy Joe

Yes ehc plans are hard to obtain. Parents have to be persistent.

As I mentioned preparation for adulthood counts as education at your sons age…

Regulating own emotions
Social communication
Self care
Travel training
Independent living
Work experience
Planning and preparing meals
Supported internships

I won’t lie…they are hard to get and it can be stressful but young people can have them up to age 25 if there are outcomes that still need to be met.

Parents often have to go as far as appealing to get them. And i admit that you are very busy as you work …

I mentioned Eotas packages. There is also the possibility of a Residential FE college if that would meet the needs. Usually these are only agreed if other local options are unable to meet need. There would most likely be a big fight to get an FE college.

I honestly with hubby spend half of our life or more just to try and get the correct support for both our kids.

You will see when you read the Selfish Pig book it is called


With regard to supported housing…i suggested to my son that we take a look for the future…no pressure. Which we did and he made up his own mind .

The thing that helps me know its the right decision is that I know I won’t be around forever. I would much rather him move now while I can aid the transition rather than it be a sudden emergency move.

You mention your son has had counselling but its tricky to get him to go. Is it possible to arrange this via zoom?

Both of my sons have had therapies over zoom during the whole of Lockdown and its worked well

I hope you enjoy the book …it can easily be read in small snatches of time.

Everyone feels bit sorry for themselves at times…i know I do!

I am hoping that others will be along with some suggestions too!