Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Does Anyone's Adult Child with Schizophrenia also have Autism?

Hello everyone, I am new here…my 24 year old son, who has dealt with HFA (formerly diagnosed as Aspeger’s) and OCD(Harm/Pure O) just graduated in May Magna Cum Laude with a Major in Psychology and a Minor in Philosophy, was accepted into three graduate schools online, and had two jobs lined up for the summer. 5 days after graduation, he spiraled into an acute psychotic break which seems to be more and more like Schizophrenia. I feel like I am losing him slowly…like his hold on reality is hanging by a thread…just hoping to find and offer support to others so we don’t feel so alone…

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Hello and welcome. I am sorry for what you and your son are going through. My son who is 37 now was diagnosed with Disorganized Schizophrenia at the age of 21 but I believe the symptoms began in his teens. He was never formally diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum and he was a child of the 80’s and it wasn’t brought up during pediatric visits like it is today. However my extensive reading has lead me to believe he has been on the spectrum since he was a baby. Delayed speech and development, sensory issues, repetitive hobbies (list making) and sometimes odd behaviors as well as problems socializing and educational delays. I did not know it was autism, I got a speech therapist for him when was 4, I tried to get him into special ed classes but there was so much red tape it never happened. I had tutors. I worked with him at home as much as I could as a single mom and things didn’t improve and by the time he was a teenager things just escalated into a behavior nightmare and he started using drugs. Thankfully he is much better today and in treatment that works.

My other older son was not ever diagnosed mentally ill or autistic I believe has some key components of Asperger’s, he is brilliant and speaks several languages and is in fact a language teacher, but he has trouble empathizing with others and problems socially, everything has to be based on fact with him, even one of his hobbies is reading history books, and he has to restrict his stress or he will behave in a psychotic manner. So he cannot work over 32 hours a week even though he wants to and he has to restrict socializing because it stresses him out. He has to get enough sleep, there is much he must do to stay well and stable but he has recognized it in himself and acted on it. He doesn’t want to see a specialist even though I have strongly suggested it. My oldest is 39 and married to brilliant woman with 2 degrees who also has behavior like him. They get along pretty well.
Hearing about your son and his brilliance and his amazing abilities and accomplishments it dawned on me that he may not even be aware of how deeply his brain is stressed. Just because he has a brilliant mind doesn’t mean that that brilliance protects his brain from stress. It sounds like he is willing to take on almost unlimited amounts of projects and has exceedingly high expectations for himself. I would want to try if possible to find away to give him a much needed break and see how and if his mind begins to react to a break and some real rest and relaxation in a different or more positive way.

I am not a doctor though and that idea came to me just as a fellow mom thinking out loud. I do think your son probably should be evaluated professionally and that the professional you choose knows about how much your son takes on in any given, day, week or month. He or she may agree or disagree with my thoughts. I can say with either of my sons (and they are both very different people) stress is the ultimate enemy of their mental wellness and stability. I think in many ways its the enemy for all of us. Just something to consider. Just because our kids can do certain things and do them well, doesn’t mean that they necessarily should (at least not all the time). Self awareness is key. Please know you are definitely not alone. I wish you and your son the very best going forward.

I have never done a formal test but a clinical psychologist who saw me at least for 20 sessions says I have aspergers. I am diagnosed with schizophrenia. What I can tell you is to have your son take a break from work and school for at least a year so he can rebuild his social, academic and employment skills. Rushing back into school or work would be detrimental to his recovery and may end up in him quitting school or jobs repeatedly, which happened for me. Take a year off and get on good medication, practice mindfulness meditation and work relentlessly everyday training your mind to read difficult texts. Your son is relatively lucky in that he is highly intelligent as I can tell by his magna cum laude. Intelligence often provides better outcomes for people with schizophrenia.

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Dear Catherine,
THANK YOU so much for your rich, prompt, thoughtful, and compassionate response! I love your thoughts regarding my son’s brilliance! <3 He does have an extensive team surrounding him…he has a psychiatrist who, ironically, was the ER psychiatrist he first encountered in 2014 when we brought him in for depression and our doctor now, then a resident, committed him out of compassion for his extreme depression. My son actually rebounded from that, graduated top ten in his class, but fell prey to Harm OCD in his summer before college when he attempted THE DAY BEFORE COLLEGE STARTED, where he had received a Vice-Presidential Scholarship. Miraculously, he survived with: a C6 Vertebrae fracture, 2 fractured ribs, 2 shattered teeth, a totally shattered left wrist, and a grade 4 liver laceration…all because he thought that the world and all the happy people at college orientation would be safer if he were dead because he believed the harmful intrusive, albeit, irrational, thoughts even though he has ALWAYS been so sweet and kind…We went to McLean Hospital that fall, twice, for OCD inpatient and Columbia’s COPE program only to be told that he was not truly OCD OR prodromal/Schizophrenic but that his Autism seemed to be a key component. We then finally received Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and he was back in college one year later, to the date exactly of his attempt from the year before. He had numerous ups and downs with depression and anxiety during college but still graduated. Throughout all the years, we continued with both his psychologist and psychiatrist. Unfortunately, his psychiatrist lost all his NPs and he is the best in Syracuse, so in order to see him was so difficult, with waiting times of three hours or more for each appointment. As such, we went with a newer Psychiatric NP who CLAIMED she was anti-big Pharma and pro-Holistic treatment of mental health conditions. Well, David continued to maintain, as a brilliant psychology major with (during that time) excellent theory of mind that his meds caused too much brain fog and anhedonia. He PLEADED continually during the last year with her to continue lowering his Clomipramine and Abilify, which we did up to a certain point but she stopped entertaining his requests, only having 5-15 minute phone calls with him to not even allow him to explain why he felt that way or why she didn’t. Well, we allowed him to lower again with our blessing and vigilance. He started to demonstrate more bipolar symptoms and when she finally had a long call with me and my son, she was furious at first, saying she “didn’t roll that way” with meds but agreed she would start David on a new regimen if he could just stay the course until May 28. On May 14th, TWO WEEKS TO GRADUATION, she was supposed to be in a joint call with David’s psychologist and she called in first. David just reminded her, per my notes, of the meds we were on. I explained that we also had to go back up 5 mg on the Abilify for the psychotic symptoms, which helped. She apparently had forgotten that this was basically the same course of treatment we were on 2 weeks prior and thought David and we had gone egregiously again AMA and ended the call without waiting to talk to his psychologist and said VIA TEXT TO ALL OF US, that she would no longer work with David–TWO WEEKS TO GRADUATION! Luckily, we were recommended a new Psychiatrist-enter the precious young med student who had worked with David 7years prior! Fast forward to 2 months post discharge and we are more in the thick of psychotic symptoms than we were the night I brought him to the ER after Graduation. They temporarily tried to put him on Zyprexa, without consulting the genetic testing I had given them, which indicated that he needed MORE dosing due to his gene interactions. This caused him to go almost 5 days without full antipsychotic meds at a therapeutic level. Then, after the hospital, he tried to return to his landscaping job with my school district, only to find he could no longer maintain enough concentration and the med caused autonomic issues, meaning his internal temperature control was put out of whack and he was also buying boxes of hostess twinkies and donuts due to the sugar cravings the med caused. As a result, we cross titrated BACK to Abilify which he had always done well with and back to 30mg. We were SLOWLY improving with him beginning to engage in more cognitive discussions, engage in his hobbies and connect with friends on Social Media. Then about two weeks ago, he started to demonstrate more of the negative symptoms of Schizophrenia after we took a 2 day mini-vacation out of town. And here we are now…we are going to ask about either injections of Abilify, different dosage/times, or switching to either Clozapine or Ziprasidone…Thank you for sharing so much about your childrens’ experiences and for listening/responding to my rambling…
Jenn

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Thank you so much for sharing! We are definitely having him take as much time as he needs to recover and told him he NEVER has to go back to college if he doesn’t want to…we just planned according to his pre-prodromal state when he wanted to earn his masters on line for psychology in order to do research . Right now, we are going to explore maybe switching from Abilify to Clozapine. His voices are all positive and encouraging, but he is more withdrawn socially these last two weeks and less able to read/focus on anything and his thoughts/speech/ and mannerisms are the most disorganized he has ever been…he came down the stairs yesterday to go out for a run (heat warning in Upstate NY!) in FLEECE PJS! :sweat_smile: He seems mostly happy, just in his own world now except for the few new times when he lashed out at me because I frustrated him without meaning to or even realizing it… :cry:. He has ALWAYS been sweet and very empathetic towards me and others, even with his Autism! I am just trying to be kind, quiet, minimal in my talking to him, and making sure I don’t ask any questions that call for emotional processing or use verbose sentences…His biggest sadness and anxiety all through college was his wanting desperately to find loving friends but not having the social “grit” and skills to establish and sustain friendships in person so he relied on a quirky and needy group on Discord, which ultimately had their own social and emotional issues so that caused a tremendous amount of sadness on top of the stress with graduation and his growing inability to concentrate and finish assignments in his final weeks of courses. I am working on creating an even bigger support network around him and hoping we can keep moving forward. Bless you for sharing and good luck in maintaining your health.
Jenn

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I function well on Latuda and Ziprasidone. I too have struggled immensely with making friends in university as did many people. It’s just so different from high school. What I learned the past year is that when I am myself and being genuine to others, others are drawn to me. Good luck.

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Thank you!
His doctor is adding a temporary rapid titration of Seroquel to his Abilify. I pray this helps… I am so glad you are found a decent regimen! My son right now does not seem to possess a healthy theory of mind like he used to…:heart::pray: