Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How do I get my son to talk to me


My son refuses to talk to me in any form. I text him but he doesn’t particularly like that either. He doesn’t go out and isolates himself in his room. I am thinking of telling him that I will order a pizza if he will sit with me while we eat it - he wouldn’t even have to talk, we could watch one of his new TV channels. Any ideas appreciated.


I’m all for giving rewards or dangling carrots or doing the old “when this is done, then you will get that” strategy. At present, those are pretty much the only way we get things done, like showers, teeth brushing, appropriate social behavior, better food choices, etc.

It seems terrible because it’s how I would manage a little kid, even though we’re talking about a young man. But, we do what we have to do.

I spend quite a bit of time just sitting in silence with my son, and I’m OK with it because it’s meeting him at his level. If you say “we don’t have to talk”, really make sure you do just that. Let him take the lead to initiate any conversation.


@Day-by-Day That’s how I got him to do things when he was little, perhaps it will help now. The problem is that we still live with my BF and his son. I think my son will do better when it is just the two of us (which will be next summer). Surely, he’ll want a pizza before then hopefully. We are doing the gluten free diet (that’s all I buy) so the ordered pizza (with wheat) will be a treat.



@GSSP Gssp I got him one for Christmas! It’s small one but I think he may like it. Thanks for the tip!


May I ask how long he has not talked with you? If it has been a relatively short amount of time, (weeks or months instead of years) - I would consider it a phase that may pass. My son is not very verbal and seldom conversed with me for a few years but it was part of his diagnosis of disorganized schizophrenia which includes poverty of speech and an inability to organize thoughts in a way that translates to speech. I always use notes when I want him to know something very important, I leave it by his chair and it works. I would/will still talk to him, and even ask questions and then after a few statements every day I would say well, when you feel like talking let me know…Or let me know what you think when you’re ready.

Usually I got nothing, but now years later…He will converse on many topics at various times and answer questions (sometimes) and even a start a topic on occasion but it is still never a daily event…and he still has days where we are very quiet. Making my son talk about something that he would rather not talk about will set him back…he gets stressed by that pressure so unless it is a life threatening event, if he is having a “quiet” day, I have quiet day and it works for us.

I understand the frustration though…similar to my older son who has Asperger’s and again, if he doesn’t have a practical reason for talking to me like “he is moving and needs me to have the new address” or “he is flying in tomorrow thought you should know” he does not get that we need to stay in touch for no reason at all because a/ we love each other b/ people that love each other stay in touch c/ things can change moment by moment and just because we’re okay last month doesn’t mean we are okay today…etc…there is no getting through to him so I love him from afar —accept my unanswered texts to him, and let him call me when it’s his idea which averages about once every 4-8 weeks. Anyway…that’s my story I hope you find a way that works for you and your son. My very best to you.


I think Catherine’s advice is good. A few months of silence is not that long in this illness.

The main thing is to talk about things you both like or that he is interested in. Ask what he wants for Christmas???


@Hereandhere has a very good point about it taking something that might really interest your son to get him to talk…for my son it is usually food or television…and I thought of something else, even though my son will talk to me now, he will rarely speak to others and if he does it is very limited.


Like Catherine’s situation, my older son has high functioning autism. I know that if I really want him to immediately respond to a text, the subject must be something that interests him - greatly.

It used to be with Jeb that all I had to do was ask him if I could buy some item for him.

Now with Jeb and his scz, he may not respond to a question for months. I know he is thinking about it. He always did take a long time to make a decision, even before his illness. Now that he has scz, it takes even longer for him to make a decision. As Hereandhere pointed out, months of silence is not long in this illness.


@Catherine @Hereandhere @hope Thank you for your advice. He is 27. I have only gotten a few words out of him for the last 4 months or so. Before that he would sit with us at dinner and make some small talk. I maybe have a few short interactions with him a month as he has been isolating himself in his room when I or we are home. He used to be interested in snowboarding, golfing, sports and so much more. Now I can’t seem to find anything to connect with him on. I got him a golf return putting thing but no use. I’m trying the car that GSSP suggested. I know he is watching tv - he likes laff TV and Me TV. I’ll try the Christmas gift question. Thanks for the support!


You are very welcome. My son and I mostly connect with TV but he also likes to walk with me either at the gym or around the neighborhood on nice days…he loves going to the parks to walk…not sure if that’s an option just an added thought. Take care! :slight_smile:


@Catherine He was walking with me last year and in Feb. 01 when he returned to live with us again but I think he was hallucinating and now he has stopped going out. We’re going to set up a stationary bike for him after the Christmas tree comes down so hopefully, he’ll get some exercise.


We were so relieved when our son started golfing. He did not golf until a few years ago. Like yours, he had many interests and activities before the scz. I think what does keep him connected to the world is his computer and the internet. He does online video games when he can. I wish he didn’t keep himself so involved in politics, most things upset him. But at least, it is something.

I know many say we shouldn’t give them reasons to stay in their rooms (computers, game systems). I saw it more as a lifeline connection for my son.

I think the video games help my son retain his cognition - of course I have no idea if that is true. I do know they say in physical therapy for people with brain injuries that there is a possibility for the brain to reroute itself around bad spots. I just want him to keep using his brain to do something.


I discovered inadvertently one day that if I just sit quietly reading in his presence, he would start the “conversation.” He lives with his father who is my ex husband. The only way I get to see him is by going over there, because he won’t go anywhere. Thankfully the ex and I have remained friends and he goes respectfully to his room or out somewhere so I can visit. I would begin by asking “lame” questions and getting nothing more than one-word responses which was very frustrating to both of us. But this one day, I just sat there reading while he walked around smoking. He went over and stared out the window for a long time (I was dying to know what he was thinking about) but I kept my mouth shut and then he started to talk! As I say, this was unplanned, but I’ve used it again and he talked again.


I get your frustration. My son was a skateboarder. I tried to spark his interest in it again by giving him an issue of what used to be a subscription he read cover to cover BEFORE. I ordered the issue online and gave it to him for Christmas a couple years ago. He took it, thanked me, but I don’t know if he ever opened it. It’s so sad, this illness robs them of everything and robs us of them!


I’ve had situations where my son wouldn’t talk to me. He would just pass me by in the house like a stranger and that hurts because he was always so loving and caring and was always by my side before he was diagnosed 5 years ago. Sometimes he tells me don’t say anything to him…that hurts too. I miss the old days! Lately all he does is laugh endlessly. I took the chance and asked what was funny. He told me he’s just happy and is remembering funny things from a long time ago.

Does anyone have experience with their child being “happy” laughing most of the day? This is a new experience about three weeks now. Looking forward to your input.


When my son talks it is often stuff I don’t want to hear about! He expresses a lot about his delusions. When we go out to a restaurant or coffee shop, we seldom have much of a conversation. We just sit together and think our own thoughts. I have started feeling more comfortable throwing out small conversation starters or just observations, and sometimes he chooses to respond, sometimes not.

One thing to consider is that it can be hard for my son to respond when he is in the midst of other thoughts. I have to allow additional time for him to think thru something I have said or asked and formulate a response.

He also sometimes expresses half a thought. I think I have gotten better about prompting him to complete his thought without being impatient.


@Lana - About a month or so ago, I would hear my son laughing quite a bit. He said he was watching videos. I was glad to hear him laughing. It went on for a few weeks.


@daquilamarguerite1 Thank you for the advice. I hope some day he will be in the same room as me and I will give it a try. How old is your son? Did he ever play with those finger skateboards. Maybe I’ll try a snowboard magazine. Thanks!


Thank you for sharing. I too do appreciate him laughing. I’d rather the laughter than the cursing that come with an episode.