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Aspie MIL enabling druggie son....HELP!!


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My mother in law is 60 years old and I am almost 100% sure is a person with UN-diagnosed aspergers. (She is obsessed with Disney's Frozen, puzzles and laundry. She shows little emotion, has strange hygiene habbits, etc. etc. etc. I could go on about things that make us suspect she is an aspie.)


She has 6 sons and some (privately) agree that she may have it. (She is also a widow, now, which is making her self-regulation/life decisions more eradic since my FIL is not there to sensor).


 


***Family dynamic side note: most of the brothers are TERRIBLE at communication skills/critical thinking/emotions b/c of their upbringing with an undiagnosed aspie mom. Talking about her having asperger's in itself will be a mountain to climb...***


 


Her youngest son has developed a serious drug abuse problem. She is enabling him by still helping pay his bills, and if he calls her up for drug money she will give it to him, (KNOWING that it is going to his drugs). He now owes her about $8000 and she is tapping into her 401K/retirement money for him. 


He calls her daily for money now. ($100 here and $50 the next day). When confronted by her other sons, her response it "It's my money, I can do what I want." And when told that her money to him maybe cause him to overdose and die her response is "oh well, if he overdoses, that's his problem." 


She also has been displaying more outrages towards the grandkids due to her (?) lack of ability to cope, etc.etc. with all these complex family issues/emotions. 


 


Would talking to the rest of the sons and discussing an actual diagnosis of aspergers HELP us to figure out this family dyfunction, or is that another battle for another day?


Any other suggestions for anything? Intervention? I feel like she has slipped past the medical communities help/therapy for so long and this is a serious issue that she cannot realisically cope with. 


We were thinking calling her siblings and getting them to talk her out of this outrageous behavior, she probably would hang up the phone on them (they are long distance).


She is not in a great place financially (my FIL paid off the house and cars though--she is a part time lunch lady), and her giving him money is making it hard for her to pay for her medication, but she is just NOT seeing clearly and if very defensive/angry when we try to talk with her about it.


Help!! Thanks


 


 


Edited by Cz mama
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1. I think all of the siblings should know the dynamic of what is going on.  Leaving the aspie end of things out of it---just say,  "Brother has a drug problem, and mom is pulling money out of her 401K to pay for his daily habit. Also, she's gotten violent with the grandkids. What should we do, if anything? I just wanted to make sure everyone knew, especially since so many of you live out of town."

2. Early dementia warning bells are going off in my head.  I'd look into senior support services in your area and see if they have any advice.  The only way that you're likely to be able to curtail her bankrupting herself is to get a financial power of attorney over her or to convince her that this is a bad idea.

 

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1. I think all of the siblings should know the dynamic of what is going on.  Leaving the aspie end of things out of it---just say,  "Brother has a drug problem, and mom is pulling money out of her 401K to pay for his daily habit. Also, she's gotten violent with the grandkids. What should we do, if anything? I just wanted to make sure everyone knew, especially since so many of you live out of town."

2. Early dementia warning bells are going off in my head.  I'd look into senior support services in your area and see if they have any advice.  The only way that you're likely to be able to curtail her bankrupting herself is to get a financial power of attorney over her or to convince her that this is a bad idea.

My husband and I have (privately) discussed her being aspie in the last year or so. He mentioned it to 2 out of the 5 brothers and they were somewhat in agreement, somewhat sceptical. Like I said, communication/complex thinking and emotions are not generally handled well with all the brothers, so up until this point, we haven't really fully put out our concerns that she has Asperger's with all the family. I think the general consensus would be denial, and possibly mocking us for thinking that MIL is a 'retard' or something to that extent (I think that's mindset of some of the brothers). 

 

I think when family is interacting with her over money spent on druggie son, they are confused because a neurotypical person would NOT be acting like this (many in the family probably know close to nothing about the spectrum). There is a lot of frustration and confusion about how to deal with her. 

 

So in summary, the aspie issue is not really talked about by the brothers, MIL has no clue she's an aspie and I just don't know if this issue (her asperger's and diagnosis possibly?) would help shed light on WHY the heck MIL is acting like this, or if it would stir up all sorts of other family drama while this is going on. 

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I'm not sure anything in your description really points to Asperger's more than general mental health issues. It sounds like she managed better in the past, right? That sounds more like early-onset dementia to me, too, even though I know her husband may have helped then.

 

I agree that I'd be wanting an evaluation for possible dementia or other issues, but I think I'd keep the discussion general and focused on the immediate and practical issues of her financial security and the grand kids' safety.

 

If Aspergers is involved, a professional can bring up that possibility, but it might not really influence treatment options for a sixty year old. In dealing with kids, we're trying to build habits and skills for a lifetime ahead. Dealing with elders, we're coping with a lifetime of ingrained habits. I'm not sure the same approaches would work.

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I wouldn't want to be in your MIL's shoes.  She's getting hit from every side...from the drug abusing son who wants her money, the other brothers "confronting" her because she's giving him money, and possibly at their request she'll soon have her siblings confronting her, too.  But she no longer has her husband to give her some emotional support.   No wonder she's immersing herself in Frozen, puzzles, and laundry! 

 

Just my opinion, but I think the family should do things to show that  they care about HER and her well-being, and aren't just concerned about her money.   Does anyone offer to help her around the house/yard, or do her children just call her to tell her what she's done wrong this time?  She's got one son who is clearly only interested in her money, but are the other sons really showing her that they're all that different?   

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Poor woman, I feel sorry for her.  Now she's a widow dealing with a drug addicted son.  Personally my focus would be to try and support her.  She may be helped with therapy, attending al-aon and lots of TLC.  

 

 

I would try and get the siblings together and make a united front to get their brother into a treatment program.

 

Edited by Tammyla
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It is her money and you probably won't get her to stop doing what she wants with it. At some point, it's none of your business. If her behavior around your children is inappropriate, change the format of the interactions or limit them. Your children are your business, her relationship with her child is not. 

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1. I think all of the siblings should know the dynamic of what is going on.  Leaving the aspie end of things out of it---just say,  "Brother has a drug problem, and mom is pulling money out of her 401K to pay for his daily habit. Also, she's gotten violent with the grandkids. What should we do, if anything? I just wanted to make sure everyone knew, especially since so many of you live out of town.".

 

This. If you can get some intervention going this direction, you might be able to find out more about the "why" later. If you decide to pursue the reason behind her patterns of thinking and such, I would have a clear goal in mind about what that would accomplish because it's not likely to be pleasant.

 

I am not hearing dementia if this is lifelong behavior, but it wouldn't hurt to find out if her doctor really understands what's going on so that a professional has a chance to weigh in on state of mind. 

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I suggest talking to an attorney versed in elder law in your state or adult social services about what your options are to protect your MIL from your drug addict BIL. The enabling is doing your BIL no favors--it's one thing to make sure he has a roof over his head, it's another to directly support his drug habit. 

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In regards to her signs of aspergers, her strange behaviors have been life long. Her brother said she was a 'strange, non-typical, non-emotional girl.' Growing up my husband said she never showed ANY affection, no interest in their lives, never once told him that she loves them, or hugged them ever. She had her obsessions then. She would spend hours watching soap operas and playing puzzles, while her sons ran amok (one of her sons graduated high school and does not to this day know how to read!). She's monotone, shows no excitement except for when it's something she likes. She didn't cry at her husbands funeral, or another example is when my DD was having seizures/brain issues she babysat for us while we went for DD's MRI, and when we got home the only thing she said to us was "your kids sock drawers were really mismatched. I found this many (---) mismatched socks in his drawer. But I fixed it."  No asking about DD's MRI. This is typical behavior of her. She's always been very venerable/naive and loans money (and usually doesn't get it back) to coworkers, family 'friends' etc. 

 

And we do try to show her love, in her own way, like today I went over and conversed with her about her puzzles and food bank volunteering.

Just thought I would further explain her lifestyle/personality. I'm somewhat familiar with dementia, but after these explainations, does this still remind you of dementia, and if so, why? Thanks!! 

 

 

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I wouldn't want to be in your MIL's shoes.  She's getting hit from every side...from the drug abusing son who wants her money, the other brothers "confronting" her because she's giving him money, and possibly at their request she'll soon have her siblings confronting her, too.  But she no longer has her husband to give her some emotional support.   No wonder she's immersing herself in Frozen, puzzles, and laundry! 

 

Just my opinion, but I think the family should do things to show that  they care about HER and her well-being, and aren't just concerned about her money.   Does anyone offer to help her around the house/yard, or do her children just call her to tell her what she's done wrong this time?  She's got one son who is clearly only interested in her money, but are the other sons really showing her that they're all that different?   

The other sons are very loving towards her (she doesn't seem to 'take in' their actions of love though), they stop by often to visit (she usually just watches TV while they want to converse), they fix her deck, get her wood and chop it for winter, collectively buy her new appliances (on Christmas, they got her a new dishwasher and she LITERALLY had no reaction. No thank you, no smile, just was like "do you want to hook it up tonight?" (monotone). The boys love their mom, it's been pretty hard to see her struggling with this and being so defensive and careless about this all. Plus everyone's concerned about the youngest brother too.

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The other sons are very loving towards her (she doesn't seem to 'take in' their actions of love though), they stop by often to visit (she usually just watches TV while they want to converse), they fix her deck, get her wood and chop it for winter, collectively buy her new appliances (on Christmas, they got her a new dishwasher and she LITERALLY had no reaction. No thank you, no smile, just was like "do you want to hook it up tonight?" (monotone). The boys love their mom, it's been pretty hard to see her struggling with this and being so defensive and careless about this all. Plus everyone's concerned about the youngest brother too.

 

I really admire them for being able to do this.   It makes me think that an official diagnosis might be more helpful for them than even for their mother!  But I wonder how you would even begin to convince her to get an evaluation?   At this point, it seems like she might be better off getting  professional help to deal with the son on drugs and maybe getting some financial planning advice, especially if her retirement account is at risk.   What a sad situation for your family.  I'm so sorry. :grouphug:

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I think when family is interacting with her over money spent on druggie son, they are confused because a neurotypical person would NOT be acting like this (many in the family probably know close to nothing about the spectrum). There is a lot of frustration and confusion about how to deal with her. 

I don't doubt that her response is unhealthy, and I agree you're right to be concerned.  However, if you put aside the question of whether she is on the spectrum or not, reality is other mothers in that situation do the same thing, giving money to the addict and enabling.  It's COMMON.  

 

Honestly, I don't see where belaboring the spectrum thing gets you anywhere.  What you're looking for is a compelling argument to change who controls her finances.  So you want to pull POA and declare her incompetent?  Does she have a will?  Who is her POA.  That's the person you should be talking to, because they're the person she designated as having trust in to advise her as she steps into times where she's less able to act for herself.  If she *doesn't* have a will, that would be a fabulous opportunity for you to act in her best interest.  You would come together, all the siblings, and have a sit down and say Mom, we think you need to get your will and your POA in order.  And when I did that with my loved one, I very politely suggested that since we were making the will maybe we could help set up online accounts, etc. to be able to help with finances if at some time they needed the help.  Then you've quietly gotten more *supervision*.  

 

And if you build some trust that way, with someone there having the in, then you have a sit-down and you say this is how it is and lay down the law.  NOTHING can be given to an addict.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.  Not gift cards, not money, nothing.  Anything you give they trade for more drugs.  If you love them you will go to nothing.  And it's ugly and I'm sorry it's that way.  

 

And if she doesn't agree to that, when you have that relationship already determined about who has her POA, then you have this come to Jesus talk where that person says Mom if you make this choices then you are unable to pay your bills and eat and I cannot legally allow you to do that.  Then you pull the strings.  But you got it all sort of nicely, congenially, hopefully.  

 

Moms have enabled drug-addicted children before, and they will in the future.  You might need to set this up very carefully, by getting her to make a POA document and will and develop that relationship with someone.  The ASD issue is going to it *harder* yes, but she's doing something many people do, unfortunately.  Are you wanting to have her declared incompetent?  She could have a low IQ.  There are a lot of quirky families that *kiss* the spectrum but are not on the spectrum.  She might have low IQ *and* spectrum.  So you have to go back to the basics, like how you're going to get control to protect her for her best interests and how much the law allows you to do that.

 

Btw, I think one reason maybe people are suggesting there could be *another* diagnosis/explanation for her symptoms (like early onset Alzheimers, whatever) is because you haven't indicated that any of the dc have SN.  Honestly I'd be shocked to see a situation where the mom is on the spectrum and has 6 kids and NONE of them are on the spectrum.  It's genetic.  That's not probable.  If there's another explanation, there might be meds for it.  Might be a good idea to do a basic doctor visit if she hasn't had one in a while.  

Edited by OhElizabeth
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I don't doubt that her response is unhealthy, and I agree you're right to be concerned.  However, if you put aside the question of whether she is on the spectrum or not, reality is other mothers in that situation do the same thing, giving money to the addict and enabling.  It's COMMON.  

 

Honestly, I don't see where belaboring the spectrum thing gets you anywhere.  What you're looking for is a compelling argument to change who controls her finances.  So you want to pull POA and declare her incompetent?  Does she have a will?  Who is her POA.  That's the person you should be talking to, because they're the person she designated as having trust in to advise her as she steps into times where she's less able to act for herself.  If she *doesn't* have a will, that would be a fabulous opportunity for you to act in her best interest.  You would come together, all the siblings, and have a sit down and say Mom, we think you need to get your will and your POA in order.  And when I did that with my loved one, I very politely suggested that since we were making the will maybe we could help set up online accounts, etc. to be able to help with finances if at some time they needed the help.  Then you've quietly gotten more *supervision*.  

 

And if you build some trust that way, with someone there having the in, then you have a sit-down and you say this is how it is and lay down the law.  NOTHING can be given to an addict.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.  Not gift cards, not money, nothing.  Anything you give they trade for more drugs.  If you love them you will go to nothing.  And it's ugly and I'm sorry it's that way.  

 

And if she doesn't agree to that, when you have that relationship already determined about who has her POA, then you have this come to Jesus talk where that person says Mom if you make this choices then you are unable to pay your bills and eat and I cannot legally allow you to do that.  Then you pull the strings.  But you got it all sort of nicely, congenially, hopefully.  

 

Moms have enabled drug-addicted children before, and they will in the future.  You might need to set this up very carefully, by getting her to make a POA document and will and develop that relationship with someone.  The ASD issue is going to it *harder* yes, but she's doing something many people do, unfortunately.  Are you wanting to have her declared incompetent?  She could have a low IQ.  There are a lot of quirky families that *kiss* the spectrum but are not on the spectrum.  She might have low IQ *and* spectrum.  So you have to go back to the basics, like how you're going to get control to protect her for her best interests and how much the law allows you to do that.

 

Btw, I think one reason maybe people are suggesting there could be *another* diagnosis/explanation for her symptoms (like early onset Alzheimers, whatever) is because you haven't indicated that any of the dc have SN.  Honestly I'd be shocked to see a situation where the mom is on the spectrum and has 6 kids and NONE of them are on the spectrum.  It's genetic.  That's not probable.  If there's another explanation, there might be meds for it.  Might be a good idea to do a basic doctor visit if she hasn't had one in a while.  

This gives me a lot to ponder, thank you. And yes, you make a good point about it being common that many other (non spectrum) moms enable drug addicted children. I think that the reason I bring up the possible spectrum/low IQ is because it really alarms me how naive and venerable she is (like not having the big financial picture in mind...losing sight that she may not be able to pay for her necessities if she keeps giving him money). 

I will discuss the POA/will idea with one of the brothers that has his act together with business, personal finance, etc. He is one of the older/dominant brothers. 

Thank you for your thoughts...

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