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How can I help my 23year old daughter?

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worriedmum2
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:09 am

How can I help my 23year old daughter?

Postby worriedmum2 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:21 am

When my daughter hit her teenage years she had a very difficult time at school and had very few friends. She came close to having an eating disorder and was very grumpy and withdrawn. I regret very much that we didn’t get her any help at the time and just thought it was teenage angst. When she left school and went to university, she seemed much happier and together. Now she has started work and seems worse than ever. She doesn’t seem to be able to make friends, has very low self esteem and shows little interest in anything. Her expectations of her future are low and she seems to want to make herself as unattractive as possible, despite being a very pretty young woman. Don’t get me wrong, she can be delightful and kind and we get on very well on a one to one basis, but she clams up with the rest of the family. I feel so guilty that I have let this problem go on for so long, but I feel I must recognise she has some mental health challenges and needs help. I have no idea where to start or how best to help her. I am hoping someone out there will have gone through something similar and found a way to help. I love my daughter so much and it breaks my heart to see her so unhappy. Thank you

mihaela
Posts: 1071
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:42 am
Location: Lancashire and Moldova

Re: How can I help my 23year old daughter?

Postby mihaela » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:26 am

Hello and welcome!

From all you say, it could be that your daughter is yet another undiagnosed case of female-type Asperger's (high-functioning autism). There are thousands and it'snow recognised as a national scandal.

worriedmum2 wrote:When my daughter hit her teenage years she had a very difficult time at school and had very few friends.


A typical trait - that applied to me also.

She came close to having an eating disorder and was very grumpy and withdrawn.


More typical traits. There's a close link between anorexia and HFA in girls and women.

I regret very much that we didn’t get her any help at the time and just thought it was teenage angst.


My parents would have regretted this too, but all those years ago Asperger's syndrome was unrecognised - evn in boys. My parents knew there was something 'different' about me, and that I was 'fragile' and highly intelligent, but that's all.

When she left school and went to university, she seemed much happier and together.


This isn't really typical, but maybe a way of coping with the social side. Perhaps she found a special friend to support her, which would have made all the difference.

Now she has started work and seems worse than ever. She doesn’t seem to be able to make friends, has very low self esteem and shows little interest in anything. Her expectations of her future are low and she seems to want to make herself as unattractive as possible, despite being a very pretty young woman.


All these traits are very typical, and equally applied to me.

Don’t get me wrong, she can be delightful and kind and we get on very well on a one to one basis, but she clams up with the rest of the family.


Again, very typical, and applied to me also.

I feel so guilty that I have let this problem go on for so long, but I feel I must recognise she has some mental health challenges and needs help.


So did my parents, but they had no idea where to look. Nobody suggested autism, for the female presentation is very subtle and we're good at masking it. In recent years, professionals have begun to study it in depth, and there's lots on the internet covering this area - experts like Drs Tony Attwood, Judith Gould, Tania Marshall, Olga Bogdashina, and many more.

Since my own diagnosis, I have become an expert through experience: my own, meeting very many females on the spectrum (some diagnosed, but especially underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed - far too common), and intensive reading. I can help you decide whether autism is a real possibility, and if so, how to seek a diagnosis. It's not easy if you aren't aware of the pitfalls on the way, but well worth it in the end.

worriedmum2
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:09 am

Re: How can I help my 23year old daughter?

Postby worriedmum2 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:39 pm

Thank you for your very helpful reply. It has crossed my mind in the past that she might have Aspergers/HFA and I would be very interested to understand how being diagnosed has helped you? I have always worried about giving someone a label, but maybe there is a plus side to this? Thank you

mihaela
Posts: 1071
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:42 am
Location: Lancashire and Moldova

Re: How can I help my 23year old daughter?

Postby mihaela » Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:08 pm

I only wish that I'd had an early diagnosis - a big regret! The whole direction and nature of my life would have been different and all the stresses and traumas far fewer. That's how important an early diagnosis of autism is. I've struggled all my life, until decades later after I lost all my family, I felt as if I'd been set adrift in a scary and confusing world. My life was falling apart; I couldn't cope - still can't without support. I knew there was something different about me, but I knew it wasn't the classic (male-type) Asperger's that I saw in my brother, but it was something related to it. It was only when I started reading about the female AS presentation that the truth hit me; I satisfied nearly all the traits.

I then sought a diagnosis, knowing little about how it all worked. It wasn't straightforward and my GP laughed when I suggested it. I now know that there's an enormous amount of ignorance over female HFA traits, even among specialists. My first diagnosis was ambiguous, poorly worded and far too short, but at least it said that I was "on the autism spectrum". This reflected the psychologist's lack of knowledge of the female presentation. I'm now part-way through seeking a far more accurate and detailed diagnosis - but this is only because the first one was the cause of horrific events in my life that wouldn't have happened had I received a more thorough diagnosis the first time.

A diagnosis was like having all the pieces of a big jigsaw suddenly fitting together after decades of being scattered. I now like being the way I am, others like me as I am, and I wouldn't wantto be any different. I now have no shortage of friends, after decades of having none.

Labels are double-edged swords - very important if we want much-needed support, 'reasonable adjustments' and in confirming what we long suspected. I'm not happy about the labels used, but nor are most autism specialists. They've evolved historically and change with fashion. They're inadequate in many ways, but they're all we have. The 'A' label can have a certain stigma - but only among ignorant people, and autism awareness is growing. Under the Equalities Act employers should make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people - and this includes people with autism. Without a diagnosis they wouldn't do this. For some people self-diagnosis is enough, but later in life they may still find that they need a formal one. It all depends upon life circumstances - which differ for all of us, and can be unpredictable.

Autism is a vast and complex subject and I could go on and on! If you'd like a chat contact me on lamposatmaildotmd and I send you my number. I do think you and your daughter need to discuss it. A lot can be done to make her life easier now, and way into the future.

vitasw
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:09 pm

Re: How can I help my 23year old daughter?

Postby vitasw » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:51 pm

Hi worriedmum2,

I think your daughter's experience is a very relatable one. It sounds like she thrived in University where she had found a place to be comfortable and have friends around her. Transitioning from Uni to "adult life" can be difficult - I imagine she is living in a different place or at least many of her friends are and she doesn't have that same support structure around her. It's also possible she's found herself in a job/field that isn't what she hoped it would be and she is disappointed.

It's not uncommon to feel lost or directionless in your 20's but given her previous struggles, it's probably a good thing for you to be concerned and perhaps direct her to some support. I think it could be good for you to speak to her and say you've noticed some changes, that she doesn't seem as happy as she used to be, can you help her make an appointment with her doctor or a counselor?

I would be careful about what you say exactly. It's clear your post comes from a place of love and concern but try and think about how it might sound if your mother said these things to you e.g. "she seems to want to make herself as unattractive as possible despite being a very pretty young woman". It's possible (particularly if she is already feeling down and vulnerable) that she will interpret your concerns as disapproval or disappointment rather than how you intend them.

All the best!


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