My son doesn't want to grow up

Angie - posted on 12/19/2010 ( 17 moms have responded )

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Hello- I'm just wondering if anyone has ever had this happen to them with thier child. My ASD son is 10 and he get VERY upset when he thinks about growing up. If someone calls him a big boy, he yells "I'm a big kid" then breaks into tears and says he doesn't want to grow up.

I guess I'm just not sure what to say to him. Everytime he does this I tell him he deosn't have to grow up if he doesn't want to. Just not sure if this is right.

Any suggestions would be great.

Thanks
Angie

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Sheila - posted on 12/20/2010

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Hi Angie,

Many children, typical and atypical, have what can be described as separation anxiety...so, the thought of growing up means you leave mommy and daddy and are somehow alone for the rest of their lives...pretty scary!

So, if he can explain to you what is upsetting him, let him voice this. Re-assure him that he has a home with you even if he is a big tall man, with a silly hair cut. (?? whatever would make him laugh). He might be very, very worried about his perceptions of adulthood and what it means in relation to his relationship to you.

As well, you might want to reverse it a bit...something like, you know, I loved it when you were a baby, but those poopie diapers were really getting hard to deal with...I'm glad you're not a baby now because we get to...and then mention, you know, when you are (pick an age) I can't wait because then we'll be able to (pick something). Look for some of the positives without referring to being a big boy, or "growing up." As well, let people know that this is a trigger for your son right now and you would appreciate any "growing up or getting big" comments be held in check until you get to the bottom of it!

Good luck

Sheila

Jonathon - posted on 12/25/2010

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Im not shure if i can be considerd an expert in this but i have alot of experiance in this. Due to the nature of this topic im going to just say it. Chronologicaly im 23, mentaly due to mild developmental delay, im close to 19, but emotionaly and psycologicaly i feel 12 months. I am an Adult Baby. It is important to note that for me there never was a sexual element to this its just an emotional and psycological comfort. First of you must remember that forcing a child to do something that they dont want to do and arnt emotionaly or psycologicaly ready to do can be a traumatic experiance for the child. This can cause emotional and psycological damage to the child that may or may not show itself straight away. Second you need to determin what age your son wants to be to determin weather or not this is a respnse to a traumatic event or is a phobic fear of growing up. you can do this simple by asking how old he wants to be. If his response to this question is the age of a baby, toddler or very young child (below 6) then chances are that this is a response to a traumatic event and you will need to find out what that event was, but do not try pushing him to tell you, he will tell you in his own way when he is ready to tell you what that event was. Untill that time it is best to treat him at the age he wants to be eaven if that means diapering again. It will aid in the emotional psycological healing process from the traumatic event. If your song gives you an age above 6 chances are he has developed a phobia of growing up, and the best way to proceed is to ask him what he finds so comforting about being the age he has given you and then find something in a slightly older age say 14 that will be sutable to age 14 and still bring the same leavel of comfort. You would have to do this each year he gets older to begin with. Im betting it is playtime that he is missing out on, and he is scared that he wont have any time to play or any toys to play with. I spend most my time playing on neopets, on the computer, and i have very few toys left, but i still wish i had more toys, all i have is my Lou Lou bunny teady, my blankie, my ratle, my paci, my simber tiger teady, my tigger tiger teady, and my pingu penguin teady. they talk to each other i talk to them and they are pretty much the only friends i have. i listed the disabilitys i have in the child profile thingy wich i made as my inner self profile, most of the toys i listed there are toys i wish i had. all my knex is is already built in to models so i cant play with that anymore otherwise the world would end. your son is not the only one with a fear of growing up, i hate the idea of being a big boi, i never want to grow up, but were as your son may hopefully be just phobic about growing up, for me it was a response to multipale traumatic events thats started when i was 6 months old, when i was potty traind during the day, 12 months old potty traind during the night, 3 years old the abuse started, 4 years old school started and so did the bullying, 5, the teaching assistent broke my arm cause i dident want to do maths and was trying to get out of the classroom, 7 ran away from malmsbery park first school and got restraind by 8 police officers cause i dident want to do the maths (i couldent understand maths and i still dont understand maths), 9 sent to bicknell EBD school were the bullying increassed to 24/7 since this was a boarding scool and i was there for 4 years, 14 transition from bicknell to kingshigh began i spent 2 years in kings high school the bullying decreased, and deispite the fact i was unable to learn due to the leavel of disruption from the other kids at bicknell i got 9 gcses in kings high including an e in maths wich i have since forgotten how to do tens and units. As i have Aspergers Syndrome as well as Pathalogical Demand Avoidance Syndrome and Reactive Depreshion, and Traits of OCD as well as a whole load more, i am writing this from the autistic point of view, as well as the childs point of view (in some places), and the adults point of view, like i said before at the start of this post being i may not be an expert, but i know what im talking about in this perticuler topic both from experiance and from research, and espeschaly since i myself am an Adult Baby.

There are many common misconceptions at to what an Adult Baby is and the same is true of Infantalism and Diaper Lovers, please if you would like a detailed explination, or have any questions regarding this or anything you feel may be related to this then please do not hesitate to message me and i will awnser them asap.

[deleted account]

It sounds like he may be feeling anxious about all of the changes and responsibilities that come with growing up. I would definitely have a talk with him about the meaning of various phrases that are upsetting him, such as the usage of boy/ kid/ man. Also reassure him that you will be there for him every step of the way and you will never force him into a sitaution he's not ready for. If he's in school, he may be hearing things that upset him there as well. Locker room talk and all that. :)

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Catherine - posted on 02/01/2014

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My 12 year old son (PDD-NOS)also gets very upset if you mention anything anything about growing up. This year I gave permission to have the school discuss puberty with him. He got EXTREMLY upset. I always tell him he will be my little boy but he always says he doesn't want to grow and then he starts crying. I don't have any advice unfortunately but I just wanted to let you know your not alone with this issue.

Lisa - posted on 02/14/2013

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My 5 year old son, Lyric, has high functioning autism (AS) and is seriously resisting finishing potty training and only poops on the toilet about 3 days out of 7. It's so frustrating for us but he has so much anxiety around it and growing up that he recently held his BM for 6 days and then couldn't control it for a day after. So, we've lifted the pressure and am letting it happen more gradually. He tells me all the time he is a little boy and not a big kid and doesn't want to grow up.

Lately, I've been telling him about the wonderful things he can do because he is older now. And I keep it simple and only one thing at a time. Some are things he is already doing and some are things he'll be able to do soon like get a dog. He seems to be coming around some to the idea and occasionally now says things like, "When I'm 7, I can have a dog!"

I also had severe anxiety about growing up when I was 16 and feared that I wouldn't be able to hold down a good job and that everyone would figure out I wasn't very smart once I entered university (feeling like I was fooling everyone into believing I was smart.)

Talkiing about it definitely helps my son and it helped me. My parents made me see a psychiatrist and after about 6 months, the anxiety was much relieved and my life returned to pretty much normal.

Jo-Anne - posted on 02/12/2013

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Children on the spectrum often have high levels of anxiety. There is nothing wrong with telling him his life won't change if he doesn't want it to, that there isn't any pressure on him to behave differently, etc. He may feel differently when he puberty really sets in and he starts thinking of being a young man. My 13 year old DD has listened for years to her older siblings talk about college and careers and never seemed to have any interest in planning for the future. Now she has confided in me that she is afraid she won't be able to have or keep a job. I think the worries actually reflect a growing level of self-awareness; they are becoming conscious of their challenges. But they haven't yet gained enough confidence that everything will be ok, even if it may not turn out as we have hoped and planned. I have been telling my DD that it will be fine, we will take care of her, there are lots of people who love her and will make sure she has a home, etc. Very sad, and it calls for lots and lots of reassurance.

Christina - posted on 02/06/2013

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Hi Angie, my seven year old is just being tested for aspergers, but my own opinion is that he is pretty on the scale, but he also got very upset recently about the idea of growing up. He didn't want to tell us why, but he seemed very stressed about having responsibilities... did you ever work out a way to deal with this issue? Thanks, Chrisi.

Mandy - posted on 08/29/2011

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My son is 16 yrs old and is starting his junior year in high school. He has alot of friends, he is a singer in a band, he is smart and he has Aspergers. He is also depressed, anxiety stricken, unsure of people and their emotions, and barely passing each grade that he enters. He also has no desire to grow up and after talking with him about this he does not have want the responsibility that comes along with age and he doesnt understand why he has to do things age appropriate, for instance he does not want to get his drivers license because then he has to be responsible for ginving his younger siblings rides or because I may ask him to pick something up at the store. He does not want a job. He has actually told me that if he comes off as being responsible then people will expect more from him, you could only imagine as a parent how I felt about hearing this and I am hoping that eventually he will deire to have a job and a license because I have made it quite clear that I will not support him forever. He is able to have tons of responsibilty at the things he likes like the band...he is usually the first one at the gig or the first one to be at practice so I know he has it in him and unfortuanately there is alot of selfishness with Aspergers and when he was younger he was anything but selfish. My son wasnt diagnosed with Aspergers until he was almost 15 but has saying he doesnt have the desire to grow up for years now. Dont get discouraged I think the thought of growing up is overwhelming to children with aspergers so I havent been pushing him to get a job or to get a lisence YET...one day at a time.

Heidi - posted on 12/29/2010

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My son is 10 also Aspie, and he has heard of all the bad things that teenagers do, and does not want to be one. I was in luck though when he told me that he was not going to be a teenager I had a clearer idea of his fear. With the help of our church we exposed him to some good teenagers, and did some volunteer projects with them, and had some come to our house and help move our shed. It is easy to forget that the media rarely shows the good side of big kids. The bad ones stick out at the store, and we talk about them all the time. We have also made an effort to point out good teens, and plain average ones to him in the real world. I would agree with the others, you need pin point his exact fear.

[deleted account]

My son used to do this, too. I think perhaps he's associating "growing up" with having to leave you? Make sure he knows you'll always love him and he'll always be your boy, no matter how big he gets. This seemed to help my son. He also doesn't like to talk about going to college. I think boys hang onto their moms longer than girls do. Just support him and make sure he feels loved. He'll be okay.

Teresa - posted on 12/28/2010

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My 10 yr old Fletcher has Asperger's. I've been running into the same problem. I think it must be so much harder to make the transition to independent big kid because while his body is that of a relatively normal 10 yr old (he's pretty pudgy), his mind doesn't always function like that of a 10 yr old. I think that the best thing parents like us can do is to help them understand that they can still be themselves and be big kids at the same time.

Johnna - posted on 12/22/2010

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Changes are hard for people with Autism. Growing up can be extra scary for them since it will not only mean changing the way they live as a child, but also making difficult choices and having the responsibility for those choices resting squarely on their shoulders. It is not surprising that to a child whose disability already has him or her misunderstood and often feeling like it is hard to express him or herself, they will be very frightened to grow up. Give your son as much reassurance as you can, and explain what various phrases mean. Also, kids with autism can be very literal. There is the possibility that some of it could just be that he doesn't see himself as an adult and doesn't understand why people keep calling him something he is not. Kids with autism often feel misunderstood and little things like that might grate on them more than seems reasonable to anyone else.

Tonya - posted on 12/22/2010

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Angie - I know exactly how you feel. My Asperger's/ADHD son went through the same thing a couple of years ago. He would cry because he didn't want to grow up. I used to ask him why and try to explain to him all the great things he'll get to do when he's older. I also told him that it's a long ways off and he doesn't have to worry about it right now.
He's now 13 and I don't hear anything more about it. In fact now he's looking forward to getting his driver's permit (I don't know if I'm ready for that one!). It's frustrating and I know you probably hear this a lot but it will get better.

Genia - posted on 12/22/2010

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my 8yo aspie is very anxious about growing up too. I think his biggest concern is having to move away from us. When I reassured him that he could continue living with us if he wanted to he seemed to feel a little better....

Fiona - posted on 12/21/2010

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Hi Angie,
I have the same problem with my 9 yr old daughter. She often tells me she doesn't want to grow up, doesn't want to move up to the next year level at school, doesn't want to get older. She does get upset about it sometimes.
I just gently tell her that she will have to get older, there is no way to stop it, but we will always be here to help her as she grows up.
I'm not an expert (apart form mothering 2 ASD kids), but I probably wouldn't be telling him he doesn't have to grow up if he doesnt' want to. Unfortunately, even though they get upset and scared about it, it is inevitable, and you may be getting more confused and upset about it because it is happening even though he is being told he doesn't have to grow up.
I know its hard to see your child stress about things like this, but leading them into a false sense of security won't help them in the long run.
Do you see a psychologist with your son? If so, I'd probably bring it up with them to see what they recommend.
Good luck! I know how hard it can be! :)
Fiona

Angie - posted on 12/20/2010

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Thank you so much for your help. I'm going to have a talk with him and see what the root is.

Angie

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