Finding ways to make my son talk

Lately I’ve been making my son go to the grocery store by himself to buy an array of lunch meats and cheeses, specific brands, types, amount, (he would have to ask for them at the deli), having him wait for the HVAC guy to tell him what’s wrong ( I would be conveniently late so he’d have to talk to the HVAC guy), made him go to Home Depot to buy blinds and gave him measurements (he would have to ask someone at Home Depot to cut them to size), drive thru”s for food (he has to order the food himself, pay for it), make him pay bills online and on the phone with a customer service person, make him call when my electric bill is too high (I will say I’m so upset about the bill, can he please call them for me and find out why bill is so high), pick up his meds, run errands for me, call and ask questions about bills or different phone plans etc

There are many many things that we can do to make our kids talk and interact briefly with someone else. I made him call his eye doctor for his 2 year check up. I made him go to the lab by himself for bloodwork. I made him call his GP for his yearly check up. Trying to convince him to call the dentist next, no luck there so far. I’m slowly “making him” do things by himself that I used to do for him or with him. Anything that would require outside interaction.

Since he enjoys driving anyway, I wanted to make good use out of it.

Going to try to make his daily errands progressively alittle more difficult, he may have to actually have a full conversation with someone.

When he returns from these errands, he seems happy like he accomplished something.

Getting him to talk 1st, then maybe work? My sons biggest hindrance was not talking or knowing how to socialize.

There are risks involved, including letting him drive my car by himself (I’ve always been in the car with him until recently), and I feel like so many things can go wrong, but at some point I’m hoping he would feel more “normal” again and doing what everyone else is doing.

It’s such a fine line between trying to protect and shelter them vs letting them go to be as independent as possible. My instincts are to always protect him and keep him safe. So scary


Great ideas. We’ve got to all find loving ways to push our loved ones to live their best lives. Well done.


Hello, I’m so happy I read this. That’s so creative of you. My son is very isolated been home for the past four months. He is 21 years old. I’ve been trying to get him out more and socialize. I’m going to try this! Thank you.


@Ihavethevictory , I’m a mother who is desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to see some semblance of my son the way he was before he got sick. I’d make a pact with the devil if it meant it would bring him back.

It’s not in the stars that I will ever get my “old” son back, but I’ll take any little improvement that I can. I miss my “old” son so much as I’m sure many of us can relate to on here.

And yes, I do stay awake @ night thinking of ways to make him talk more and not making it obvious to him that I’m trying to do that. He’s very smart and he will sense foul play so I have to be very careful how I maneuver this.

And yes, I do tell white lies and say I can’t be there to help him right now, and can he possibly handle it? I’m trying to make him stand up for himself and be able to know a world without me in it.

I often say “you have got to start sharing some of the responsibility, I can’t do it all by myself”

I wish you the best and everyone else on here :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Good for you. I know in my recovery, I often struggled with trying to understand the purpose of small talk. Having set tasks or “missions” can help, because it makes social interaction seem to have a purpose. I recall in my early days of NAMI, I met some people who were involved with Toastmasters which is a group that helps people with public speaking by giving them tasks of making increasingly longer speeches in front of the group and sometimes to outsiders.

I took group voice and acting classes as part of my recovery and they would give you similar tasks. In Voice we had to prepare a song each week and then we’d go around the piano and each we’d sing our song, then the instructor would critique and go over bits of the songs and walk you through vocal exercises and such. It was made easier because we were all in the process together, so everyone got the experience of being performer and audience. Most acting classes are done in similar ways. A side benefit to these classes is it gave me something to talk about outside the classes. Similarly your son is having to report on his progress when he gets back from his errands.

In a way these are similar to real life “achievements” in video games. They have a way of reinforcing continuing on with the narrative of interacting with society, each time building on previous successes. When people ask about what sorts of jobs I recommend for people in recovery, I usually point to jobs that require a bit of low-stakes social interaction, it’s especially good with recurring interaction with the same people. Not so much that it stresses the worker out, but enough that they feel accomplished and can build some sort of rapport with coworkers or customers and vendors.


@Maggotbrane , thank you so much for your input on this. Your input reinforces my belief that talking, even in any small capacity, can only help. I’ve often carried on a one sided conversation with my son for hours just hoping for some response from him trying to get him to answer back or at least acknowledge. The most I ever got was “ok” or “yeah” or “no”. Very frustrating.

And since he refuses CBT, any type of group therapy even via ZOOM, and any help from the ACT team, I’m kind of left to use my own resources.

I probably sound crazy to him because I talk so much about anything and everything but if that somehow helps initiate a response in full sentences I’m grateful for it.

Thank you again


You’re more than welcome. Part of the genius of these sorts of interactions is in the US there’s such a focus on customer service. Being nice to customers and being helpful is almost a requirement, and there’s a formalized informal courtesy to customer interactions built in that mimics non business social settings. For me, before I figured out how to navigate classes and clubs and groups, commerce and work interactions were all I had.

At work, I had factory workers I interacted with on the job who took me under my wing and would remind to say hello in the morning and such, and they’d send me out on errands to pick up lunch for them. I’d frequently get lunch at the deli next door and eventually developed a rapport with the owner who knew me as a “regular”. My hairdresser had a habit of calling me to remind me of hair appointments and this eventually developed into going to events with her family and even visiting her and staying at her house when she moved to a big city.

Beyond these, any other regular interactions like getting the car serviced, opening bank accounts, going to the dentist or eye doctor or picking up prescriptions are opportunities for interactions. As mentioned I found attending classes to be helpful, since they offered regular interactions with low stakes (I audited my voice classes) and additional hurdles like getting registered and paying fees and finding parking and eating on campus etc. You might also add classes or other training to your list. I always felt more confident taking social risks in a structured framework that prepared me for work or avocations that required social interaction as a “cost of doing business”.