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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My son may have autism. He is 30, homeless, never had a job,

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My son may have autism. He is 30, homeless, never had a job, self-medicating with drugs/alcohol. He is very smart yet he didn't learn his ABCs until 4th grade. I ask myself if there is something that I missed? Is he chemically imbalanced? What if those times he seemed just out there in his own world were signs that I missed, that his teachers missed? He is violent, abusive (there isn't a family member he hasn't threatened to kill) He has beat me up and my daughter and husband. My husband has been his father since Ben was 2. My husband and daughter say they will kick me out to live homeless before Ben can even visit. It's been over 2 yrs since I've seen him, but he still calls weekly and my heart still breaks. I know, my 7 yr old grandson that lives with me doesn't need Ben's influence, but I still love my son. I have colon cancer and am afraid Ben will end up alone and unable to take care of himself. My cancer completely eats up my finances. How can I find resources to help?
Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how overwhelming this situation must be for you. You have whole sorts of emotions running around inside of you. Some of them are current, some from Ben's youth. Some are about your husband and daughter and their needs. Some about your own safety. And they are all running around together responding in different ways and pulling in whole sorts of directions.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. You are clearly a loving and caring person. You have a stable marriage and another child, a daughter. You have a life. You also have a hole in your heart. And you are trying to fill it up. Those are all the emotions I was talking about above.

So, I need to say something that is going to be hard. I want you to therefore print out my answer and discuss it with your husband. Because I'm going to be open and honest with you and he is your support. So I'm answering you because I'm counting on that, okay?

That hole in your heart is a precious, gentle, delicate place. It has been there now most of Ben's life. You have not shuttered it up and that's beautiful. BUT, it's a gentle, delicate place.

You have NO way to help Ben. This is the truth. You do not have the skills nor the training nor the expertise. You didn't have the skills when he was a child. You don't have them now. Your emotions are circling around one key emotion: guilt. "Maybe I could have done something to prevent this."

It is true. Maybe you could have. MAYBE. But you're old enough to know that anything that happens is subject to MAYBE. Maybe 9/11 could have been prevented if.... But it couldn't. Why not? Because we all did the best we could with what we knew at the time and the skills we had. This is your story as well. You did the best you could for Ben with the skills you had.

You cannot let this emotion dictate your life. Because it will not help Ben one iota. He is in his own dark hole. He is in the justice system and they haven't been able to help him. That tells me as a professional that he hasn't sunk as low as he needs to in order to be willing to get help. And you know that is the starting point.

So, you are allowed to be in phone contact with him. That's it. He is dangerous and you have an obligation: you MUST model for Ben what normal behavior is like. And normal behavior means that if he asks to see you, it will be only a supervised visit, meaning in a place where if he attempts to hurt you, there will be capable intervention on hand. Otherwise phone contact only. Again, the key is that you must model for him normal behavior. It is not abandonment. It is modeling normal behavior he must accept. And you can tell this to him.

If you can get him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous in your phone conversations, fine. You might yourself want to join an Al Anon group. That's the part of AA for families. I am suggesting this for support for you. Not all meetings are the same. So if you don't hit it off with one group, find out where there's a different meeting. Here's the meeting locater:

I wish you the very best!

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