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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Need advice...visitation, possible mental abuse, Aspergers...What should I do?

Posted by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:03 AM
  • 41 Replies

DS is 15 and diagnosed with Aspergers. He's been in therapy about 4yrs and while he's been working on learning acceptable social behaviors, I've been working on understanding how his brain's wired. Some days I think I've figured it out but I can't figure out how he processes things emotionally-things that would really upset most people (or at least me) don't seem to faze him, unless he's internalizing everything which really freaks me out because that what I do a lot and I'm pretty sure that helped contribute to my depression.

His father and I divorced when he was 3 and he's lived with me but visits there frequently (Tues and Thurs afternoons and spends the night every other weekend). I've asked his father to go with him to therapy numerous times to try to understand DS but he always had an excuse to I quit asking. I see his treatment of DS as neglectful, possibly emotionally abusive but don't know if I'm overreacting because I'm his mom and his father isn't doing what I think he should or if his behavior could really be considered abusive. And I have no clue what to do.

He expects A/B from DS and while I think he's capable, I can understand why it didn't happen last semester. He had very difficult classes: Academic Earth Science, Honors Geometry, and Spanish. He passed everything with an 89, 84, and 77 respectively (Spanish went from a 68 to 77 in 5 weeks when I took him to a tutor). This year was the first year he was on swim team, something he LOVES! And his dad kept threatening that he wouldn't be allowed to swim if his grades weren't up. They have a mandatory grade requirement for participation but his dad's requirement was higher.

Tuesday was his last swim practice before Conference meet yesterday. If they're late or don't show, they can't swim in the next meet. DS was committed to the team. it's the first time he committed to ANYTHING other than video games! At 405 he texted and asked if I would tell his dad to take him to practice (his dad knew it was at 430 and told him the night before he would take/pick up since it was "his day"). I called, very angry, and told him he needed to take him right then! His dad was angry that DS told me they hadn't left yet and told him "don't tell you mom what happens here or it will make things worse for you" I perceive that as a threat and don't know what he plans to do to make things "worse".

DS was barely on time but I had already left the coach a vm so she would know what was going on and she told DS he was ok and would still swim. His dad didn't come to the meet, and didn't even ask how he did but did tell him he needed to apologize for "disrespecting" him by telling me he hadn't taken him to practice and w hen DS said he disrespected him too, he said "you're my son, I didn't disrespect you. I told you to do you homework until I was ready to take you". DS's stepsisters aren't required or expected to finish all homework before practice/games nor are they told to "wait until I'm ready to take you". Usually DS's father is coaching their sports, which began 4yrs ago he told me he couldn't help with DS with basketball because work was busy. And when DS told him he's coming here today instead of going there he said "no you're not. it's my day".

This wasn't' an isolated incident. His father always plays the "my day" card when DS has something else to do but has no problem giving up his day when he has something to do with/for his stepdaughters. Our custody agreement isn't even legal! It's filed with the divorce but not signed by a judge and he doesn't care that DS is 15 and developing his own mind so he should be given a chance to express what HE wants. He obviously treats DS differently and I think DS has to see that on some level. I'm just not sure what level or if Aspergers really is like a defense mechanism that shields him from the rejections that would really upset others. I know it's still his father and no matter how bad he treats him, DS will still love him. But, I'm honestly worried how his dad's behavior is affecting his mental health.

DS is supposed to go there this weekend and I really don't want him to. Since his dad was already mad that he was "disrespected" because DS asked me to tell his dad to take him to practice, he's probably going to be fuming when DS rides the bus here after school instead of there. This is the first time DS has chosen not to go to his dad's and I don't think it was an easy decision for him to make so I'm pretty sure he won't decide not to go this weekend, also. I don't think DS should be punished for anything because he did absolutely nothing wrong and I DO NOT think ANY child should be encouraged or specifically told to keep anything from anyone, especially their parent and be threatened that things would be "made worse" if they do tell.

I don't know what to do! My instinct tells me to call his dad and cuss him out but I know that wouldn't fix anything and would make things worse for DS since he "told me" what he's dad has said. But, I also want to CPS and file a report of emotional abuse because, to me, that's what his dad's doing. I'm just not sure if anyone else will see it like that. I feel if I say anything at all, DS will suffer the consequences of his dad's anger, but if I keep quiet things will never change. :(

by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:03 AM
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Replies (1-10):
lucasmadre
by Kari on Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:02 PM

I know exactly what you are going through. I think with men they refuse to bend and change or god forbid learn anything when it comes to having a child who has special needs. I have been working with my X trying so hard to get through to him that he has to stop expecting his son to act a certain way. We are starting family therapy. I am keeping track of any adverse effects I notice when my son returns home from his father's and I am constantly talking to him about using a gentler approach with his son. If I were you I would keep my son home the days he has swimming. Change it so he doesn't go to his dad's on those days. What happens with this swimming thing could change the course of your son;s life. If it is taken away from him he may give up...permanently. You don't have a custody agreement so that gives you a little wiggle room. Make sure he can swim, and see if you can find a family counselor, even if dad won't go at least your son will have someone to talk to...if he will. Good luck, I feel for you.

dawncs
by Dawn on Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:23 PM

He is at the age of decision at most states and the cops would not force him to go with his father or the judge. I am pretty sure that CPS will not get involved because it is a custodial matter. I recommend checking to see about it on the web. Your son sees the difference on how he is treated compared to his step sisters and hates it. Also, your ex probably does not see your son as disabled and probably struggles more with geometry because it is so abstract in high school, and it was not one of my best subjects in high school. I will include some other type resources which will help you with this stage of the game.

Dawn
Beautifully Talanted Autistic Social Story Author
Diagnosed Asperger Syndrome as an adult
Diagnosed Edema (since young)
Author Page: http://www.toyboxunlimited.com/ (has discounts)

amonkeymom
by Amy on Jan. 31, 2013 at 3:42 PM

That's a tough one, but I don't think I'd make him go to dad's if he doesn't want to.  He's at an age where he knows/sees when he's treated differently and it sounds like dad is harder on him for a few reasons... he doesn't want to see your son's disability, he doesn't want to engage in activities with him and he is hard on him because he's a boy and *should be* able to handle things like dad does.

(((hug))) to both of you.

TheJerseyGirl
by Michele on Jan. 31, 2013 at 4:06 PM
His dad sure hasn't been very supportive or encouraging. I don't blame him a bit for nit wanting to go there. I don't think you need to fight with your ex... Simply let him know your son isn't feeling up to going there and you'll let him know for the next visit.

I will never understand a father who treats his special needs child worse than the other children. Shouldn't it be the opposite? Where's this mans heart and compassion for his own son?!
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VioletsMomTown
by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 5:48 PM

I didn't get along with my dad as a teenager either, no matter what is said or done only time will tell how this goes. It's up to him whether he wants to see him, at his age he can decide. It's definitely not a place for you to step into, especially not with CPS I don't think. Just tell his dad that your son is not going to visit for a little while, and when he wants to then your son can contact him. As an adult I get along great with my dad now, but it just was oil and water when I was a teen. It's good your son is asserting his independence, he will be grown up in no time.

Bluerose1482
by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 7:20 PM

I would get a letter from DS's therapist that states the swimming is very important for ds and that he recommends that it be continued.  I would send a certified copy of the letter to the ex.  If the ex makes ds late or almost makes him later again or threatens swimming again after that, I would send a copy of the therapist's statement to the court where the custody agreement is filed and a letter, written by me, explaining the situation and requesting that they alter visitation or modify the agreement to force your ex to ensure that ds is able to attend required practices and meets and to require the ex to attend sessions with ds's therapist to learn more about asperger's, and a letter from DS explaining what swimming means to him and why he wants to continue it and how he feels when his dad threatens to make him quit or to make him miss practice.

828momof2
by Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:33 AM

 

Thanks. It's good to know I'm not alone although I'm very sorry you're going through similar things. :( I told DS he was no longer allowed to go to his dad's when he had any school function because I couldn't trust his dad to take him like he's supposed to. He seems ok with that decision because it's on me. Right now, he's the one chosing not to go and his dad keeps texting saying he HAS to go cuz it's his weekend. He's starting group sessions Tuesday with other high school boys with Aspergers and I made him an individual appt with his counselor for 2/14. He's been seeing someone for about 4yrs and he's making progress but, of course, his dad can't see it cuz it's not the progress he thinks it should be. He's completely clueless when it comes to our son!

I emailed the school counselor and she's going to talk to him today. It's taking everything in me not to say you're NOT going to your father's until he gets his head out of his ass! But, I've remained consistent that it is HIS choice, not mine or his father's. All he wants is a few days to cool off and I think that's very reasonable giving the fact that his father's convinced DS was "disrespectful" by telling me what was happening there before telling him, and he was disrespectful for not going there yesterday AND also disrespectful for not knowing if he was going to go this weekend. That's not disrespect! That's a child who's hurt trying not to get hurt more. He's told him he doesn't want to get fussed at when he didn't do anything wrong.

His father's nothing but a damn bully! He hasn't called/texted me AT ALL! He knows I'll put him in his place and he used to be able to walk all over DS but he's finally put his foot down and I'm so proud of him for it! DS even told him to talk to me but he wouldn't. His behavior may not legally be considered abuse but it won't be tolerated anymore. I've already decided if his father shows up here this afternoon trying to make him go there this weekend, I'm calling the cops to come make him leave.

Quoting lucasmadre:

I know exactly what you are going through. I think with men they refuse to bend and change or god forbid learn anything when it comes to having a child who has special needs. I have been working with my X trying so hard to get through to him that he has to stop expecting his son to act a certain way. We are starting family therapy. I am keeping track of any adverse effects I notice when my son returns home from his father's and I am constantly talking to him about using a gentler approach with his son. If I were you I would keep my son home the days he has swimming. Change it so he doesn't go to his dad's on those days. What happens with this swimming thing could change the course of your son;s life. If it is taken away from him he may give up...permanently. You don't have a custody agreement so that gives you a little wiggle room. Make sure he can swim, and see if you can find a family counselor, even if dad won't go at least your son will have someone to talk to...if he will. Good luck, I feel for you.


 

828momof2
by Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:49 AM

 

Thanks so much for the links! I'll check them out shortly. You're right that his father doesn't see him as disabled. He knows he goes to counseling but in his words "the shit isn't working". I know, for a fact, it is! Last year he did concert band and nothing more. This year, he did marching band, those guys were like family and although he didn't get super close, he did talk to people! Plus he joined the spirit club and interracts with them and is going great on the swim team! He's really working on his social skills and I feel most of it is due to his counseling being necessary AND effective!

When I first heard Aspergers linked with Autism I completely freaked out because my son is high functioning and I couldn't understand how he could be anywhere on the spectrum with highly Autistic people. But, I went with him to counseling, asked questions, read about it, and really listened/watched my son to learn more about him. I still don't completely understand it but I'm getting closer. Unfortunately, his father has a huge ego and thinks he know everything about everything, and also thinks he knows his son despite never listening to what he says :(

DS therapist told me Aspergers provides a barrier to prevent them from experiencing rejection like most people, or something like that. I really hope that's true and DS is able to let go of this and move forward in a couple days. But, I also hope this serves as a wake up call to his father that he can't continue treating DS like crap cuz he's learning how to put his foot down and stand up for himself and what he deserves. Guess, we'll see...

Quoting dawncs:

He is at the age of decision at most states and the cops would not force him to go with his father or the judge. I am pretty sure that CPS will not get involved because it is a custodial matter. I recommend checking to see about it on the web. Your son sees the difference on how he is treated compared to his step sisters and hates it. Also, your ex probably does not see your son as disabled and probably struggles more with geometry because it is so abstract in high school, and it was not one of my best subjects in high school. I will include some other type resources which will help you with this stage of the game.


 

dawncs
by Dawn on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

 The group your son will join will do him wonders because he will be around others like him. It will help him feel like he is alone in the world with his medical diagnosis. Keeping him in counseling will do him good also because it will help him deal with his father, and the problems associated with his relationship with him. You are doing a really good job in raising him!


Quoting 828momof2:

 

Thanks. It's good to know I'm not alone although I'm very sorry you're going through similar things. :( I told DS he was no longer allowed to go to his dad's when he had any school function because I couldn't trust his dad to take him like he's supposed to. He seems ok with that decision because it's on me. Right now, he's the one chosing not to go and his dad keeps texting saying he HAS to go cuz it's his weekend. He's starting group sessions Tuesday with other high school boys with Aspergers and I made him an individual appt with his counselor for 2/14. He's been seeing someone for about 4yrs and he's making progress but, of course, his dad can't see it cuz it's not the progress he thinks it should be. He's completely clueless when it comes to our son!

I emailed the school counselor and she's going to talk to him today. It's taking everything in me not to say you're NOT going to your father's until he gets his head out of his ass! But, I've remained consistent that it is HIS choice, not mine or his father's. All he wants is a few days to cool off and I think that's very reasonable giving the fact that his father's convinced DS was "disrespectful" by telling me what was happening there before telling him, and he was disrespectful for not going there yesterday AND also disrespectful for not knowing if he was going to go this weekend. That's not disrespect! That's a child who's hurt trying not to get hurt more. He's told him he doesn't want to get fussed at when he didn't do anything wrong.

His father's nothing but a damn bully! He hasn't called/texted me AT ALL! He knows I'll put him in his place and he used to be able to walk all over DS but he's finally put his foot down and I'm so proud of him for it! DS even told him to talk to me but he wouldn't. His behavior may not legally be considered abuse but it won't be tolerated anymore. I've already decided if his father shows up here this afternoon trying to make him go there this weekend, I'm calling the cops to come make him leave.

Quoting lucasmadre:

I know exactly what you are going through. I think with men they refuse to bend and change or god forbid learn anything when it comes to having a child who has special needs. I have been working with my X trying so hard to get through to him that he has to stop expecting his son to act a certain way. We are starting family therapy. I am keeping track of any adverse effects I notice when my son returns home from his father's and I am constantly talking to him about using a gentler approach with his son. If I were you I would keep my son home the days he has swimming. Change it so he doesn't go to his dad's on those days. What happens with this swimming thing could change the course of your son;s life. If it is taken away from him he may give up...permanently. You don't have a custody agreement so that gives you a little wiggle room. Make sure he can swim, and see if you can find a family counselor, even if dad won't go at least your son will have someone to talk to...if he will. Good luck, I feel for you.


 

Dawn
Beautifully Talanted Autistic Social Story Author
Diagnosed Asperger Syndrome as an adult
Diagnosed Edema (since young)
Author Page: http://www.toyboxunlimited.com/ (has discounts)

828momof2
by Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

 Thanks. He's not going today, but tomorrow's up in the air. I think it will depend on his dad's reaction to him not going today. I think part of the problem is his stepmom. She's never really done anything for DS, she didn't go to ANY swim meets, his father went to a couple but never stayed the whole time. He used to be a great father but that changed when they married :(

 I think, since Aspergers can present itself in many different ways, and his dad's never taken the time to go with him to any therapy and ask questions, he really doesn't get it. I've even wondered if DS was "faking" sometimes but the majority of the time I can see that his behavior isn't intentional. I keep telling him his dad probably isn't intentionally hurting his feelings, he just doesn't know any other way to act. He stays on him about school (most likely because he dropped out and doesn't want DS to drop out) but only looks at the final grade, not what he missed along the way and why. He usually excells in math but his geometry grade was lower because his answers were right to him but not what the teacher was looking for. I'm trying to get DS to realize grades can be changed and if he honestly thought he got the right answer but it was counted wrong, he should at least ask the teacher to explain, and him explain also, it instead of automatically accepting it's wrong. I'm fairly certain most of his teachers, and many other people, have no clue he has Aspergers or what it is so he needs to understand how his brain works so he can help others understand. I just wish his dad would get rid of his know-it-all mentality and accept he doesn't know it all!

If DS was popular, always wanting to invite friends over or go to their house, winning tons of academic awards, and participating in sports year-round, it wouldn't matter because his father would be busy coaching his stepdaughters' sports. He should be glad DS doesn't ask for much.


Quoting amonkeymom:

That's a tough one, but I don't think I'd make him go to dad's if he doesn't want to.  He's at an age where he knows/sees when he's treated differently and it sounds like dad is harder on him for a few reasons... he doesn't want to see your son's disability, he doesn't want to engage in activities with him and he is hard on him because he's a boy and *should be* able to handle things like dad does.

(((hug))) to both of you.


 

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