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Old 01-29-2011, 01:03 AM   #1
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Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

After doing extensive research, I believe that my 82 year old father has Asperger's. Having gone through many online articles, questionnaires - including one by Paul Cooijmans with 54 questions that seemed very thorough - and having observed his behavior for 50+ years, this fits him to a T.

My two sister's and I have been trying to understand Daddy all of our lives and had a tough time growing up with him. Although we also embody many valuable lessons he bestowed on us.

I finally learned to have what I call "directed conversations" with him in which I tell him calmly upfront what I expect from him in social interactions - or merely in conversations - and he responds very well to this. He is grateful to know what to do during conversations. My sisters do not seem to be able to bring themselves to do this. They are too afraid of his criticism. My younger sister has written him off entirely and he is profoundly confused by this, despite my attempts to explain.

My question is this: Should I tell him? If so, how? I know he won't go to a doctor. I can't help but feel that information on this might at least put his mind and heart at ease somewhat. He has gone through his life in a state of emotional anxiety and does not know why. He trusts me and I feel sad for him. I don't want to hurt him.

Anyone else who would care to respond? Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your candid discussion.

 
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:35 PM   #2
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Re: Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

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Originally Posted by Listener52 View Post
After doing extensive research, I believe that my 82 year old father has Asperger's. Having gone through many online articles, questionnaires - including one by Paul Cooijmans with 54 questions that seemed very thorough - and having observed his behavior for 50+ years, this fits him to a T.

My two sister's and I have been trying to understand Daddy all of our lives and had a tough time growing up with him. Although we also embody many valuable lessons he bestowed on us.

I finally learned to have what I call "directed conversations" with him in which I tell him calmly upfront what I expect from him in social interactions - or merely in conversations - and he responds very well to this. He is grateful to know what to do during conversations. My sisters do not seem to be able to bring themselves to do this. They are too afraid of his criticism. My younger sister has written him off entirely and he is profoundly confused by this, despite my attempts to explain.

My question is this: Should I tell him? If so, how? I know he won't go to a doctor. I can't help but feel that information on this might at least put his mind and heart at ease somewhat. He has gone through his life in a state of emotional anxiety and does not know why. He trusts me and I feel sad for him. I don't want to hurt him.

Anyone else who would care to respond? Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your candid discussion.
Hi there,

I don't think telling him helps at this point. He would deny it. Things like this such as asperge or Alzheimer's is not something that the patient is really aware of. It is like snoring and the sleeping person denies it.
I am amazed that you find this when he is 82.

Well, my father-in-law is 90 and I suspect he has had asperge syndrome since he was born or after his dad died when he was a pre-teen. Now he has had Alzheimer's for at least 8 years. He has late stage now. I keep suspecting it because there is something wrong with him all the time.
For one thing, How could a father not understand literally that his son has never worked in the same field? He has kept thinking his son, my hubby, can share with him about his research (he can no longer work.) In fact, my hubby's research has nothing to do with his Dad. Does his dad care about what my hubby does literally? No, the last time he talked about it he condemned DNA!! (He could no longer understand DNA but his field was in neuron.)
Well he is a genius kind of scientist and he was very successful. But he thinks his late wife and son all work with him or at least we all have to talk to him about his research any time at all. No social activities or hobbies at all.
Even now in a nursing home, he says he is working!!!

Is this asperge? But no, don't tell your Dad because it does not help. Just cope with him the best way you can. He cannot change.

Regards,
NC

 
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:49 PM   #3
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Re: Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

Asperger's is a realitive new diagnoses , I believe it was in the 80's it was offically claimed as on the autistic spectrum . The only reason in telling him , would be to see if their was a family history of autistic spectrum disorders, and you need to find out more about it , to understand other family members that are on the spectrum. Their is a link to autistic spectrum disorders found in family generations.
Other than ths specific reason, I do not think talking to your father will do much for him , other then possibly understanding a genetic link. At 82 years old , he may not care at this point in his life. However if you indirectly speak to him about ASD's and it running in families he would be more interested. He might be able to shed light on other members of the family, such as brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles , ect.
Remember that only a professional can diagnose , and at his age he may not want to take that route.

Last edited by mscat40; 03-10-2011 at 12:51 PM.

 
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Old 03-10-2011, 01:11 PM   #4
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Re: Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

I can tell how much you love your father, and I am impressed that you have found a way to help him with social situations which are difficult for both him, but the rest of your family.
Hopefully what you have learned will be helpful in the process of forgiving him for any issues that have been hurtful or confusing to you and your siblings.

When it comes to telling him, I would not. The first reason that pops into my mind is the perceived stigma that can be attached to any emotional health problems, especially to our older generations. I his day, these types of things were usually handled within the family, as they could be source of shame to everyone involved.

Thank goodness we have come a long way since then, and our way of thinking about mental illness has jumped ahead by leaps and bounds since those days. That does not mean that your dear dad can make that jump from where he is standing.

Instead I would use what you know about Asbergers and share that information with your siblings to better help them understand your father. Understanding goes such a long way in being able to adjust your thinking to best connect with him. You could also inform the staff (if he is in a nursing home) so that they too could adjust their style of interactions with your daddy, to make him feel understood and respected.

I also have a father in his late 80's that I love dearly, so I certainly understand your desire to let him live out the rest of his years with the great amount of love and respect that he deserves. I also have a sister who has shunned my father, due to her own mental issues, and I see how it hurts my dad. He has done nothing in our lives besides working hard to give us both amazing lives, but she cannot see past her own nose when it comes to supporting him and my mom in their late years.

Love and understanding, plus spending time with them is the best gift you can give. You sound like a lovely woman, and I hope you find the answer you are seeking.

 
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:55 PM   #5
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Re: Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

@writeleft:
Thank you so much for you kind words. I didn't get responses from the myriad of websites that I posted my question to so I did in fact tell him. He was very interested and listened receptively. I accented the "You may be on the kind-of-Einstein end of the autism spectrum..." and, "You know how you sometimes have difficulty knowing what we want from you and ask a lot of questions because you are perplexed about how people act?..."

I gave him a book to read called, "Look Me In The Eyes" and he promptly read it. He called me the next day and told me that he had told his friend, a lady with whom he has breakfast each morning in the retirement community in which he lives. He said that she had looked up Asperger's on the internet and said he didn't have it. I laughed (inside) as I have known him for 53 years and she has known him for about an hour a day for six months. He doesn't want to have this knowledge - you were right.

I have started sending voluminous amounts of data to both of my siblings and they are really feeling better about Daddy now. I hope to help them to converse with him in a way that will put him more at ease. My little sister actually spoke to him the other day - a miracle - and says that she feels differently about him because of knowing this. They all agree that he is definitely Aspergian. Meanwhile, my father doesn't seem to hold this against me at all and still asks me to come to his doctor's appointments with him.

I guess that, at his age, some things just will not be learn-able. But we can still learn and help him.

Thanks again!

 
Old 03-11-2011, 02:49 PM   #6
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Re: Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

Wonderful news!

You did what you felt to be right, as you know him better than anyone. I couldn't be happier to hear of your sister's decision to call him, and that alone makes your decision the right one, and it has already led to healing in your family. What could be better than that?

For your dad, he always has the lady at the breakfast table to "know" he doesn't have it! Then he has you, who has been brave enough to find the truth and share it with him, and your siblings, making it possible for you dad to have his children all together for him in this precious time of his life.

I admire your courage and wish you the best.

 
Old 03-12-2011, 11:07 AM   #7
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Re: Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

You know one thing that is interesting? When it comes to ladies, your father for sure acts differently. I think the relationship with children and lady friends are not the same.
e.g., my FIL would be very charming to his lady friends and does not look Asperge at all. For his own kids, then he is for sure in his own world. He knows he needs to impress the ladies somehow. I think it is about attraction here.

Regards,
NC

 
Old 03-30-2011, 09:26 AM   #8
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Re: Should I tell my 82 year old father about this?

I would think that we really need to diagnose this thing professionally. We can do all kinds of research but we are not the experts. Also if we don't really understand the person's childhood as we are younger, I doubt that we can diagnose family members esp. the older elders just by doing research.

Regards,
Nina

 
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