Have any of your children ever said they wish they were dead?
that must have been very upsetting to hear, I'm really sorry. My kids do say this sometimes (usually when asked to tidy their room or some other child-abusing, hideous task) but not seriously - however, I think, without being scare mongering, that you are right to be concerned. I did a bit of research into this a while back and found that there is a higher-than-average risk of attempted suicide amongst adolescents and young adults with Aspergers (which scared the pants off me). To set it in context:
a) there is a higher-than-average risk for boys/men as compared to girls/women, and as people with Asperger's are (I think, I may be remembering the figures wrong) 80% male, there haven't been many studies which disaggregate for gender. In other words, are they at higher risk because of Asperger's or because they are men?
b) the things that *protect* you against being a risk of suicide are things like strong social and family networks, lack of family history of mental illness, income, lack of external crisis (eg death of a parent or close family member, moving house, losing job, physical illness). People with Aspergers tend to have a higher-than-average risk of social isolation, be at risk of poverty because of problems getting/keeping a job, and of coming from a family with mental health issues (a mix of nature/nurture: it is stressful being a parent to an ASD child, so you find higher incidences of depression/stress than you do amongst 'normal' families, but it is hard to disaggregate and say this is because of genetic, social or a combination of factors). Again: are they at risk because they have Aspergers, or because they are at risk of poverty/mental illness/isolation?
The evidence base is patchy, but what we do know is that roughly 1/3 of people are 'resilient' (ie they will cope, and be happy, no matter what life throws at them), 1/3 of people are 'balanced' (ie they will be happy or unhappy depending on their early experiences and resources and what life throws at them) and 1/3 of people have a natural tendency to be 'unresilient' (ie they have a tendency towards depression and poor coping even if they have a brilliant childhood, are rich and well-looked after etc). That, and the social environment, seem to be a much stronger predictor of suicide risk than any single factor like Aspergers.
I take a bit of heart from this. Our kids can be taught coping skills, and we can put in place social scaffolding for them, and we can help steer them through childhood and adolescence hopefully gaining the social and emotional skills they need to survive in the real worl (or we stand as good a chance of doing this as any other parent). But because of the complex social and emotional barriers that Aspies face I think we are right, as parents, to have our sensors a bit heightened for their mental health.
Kirsty, mum to Euan (11, Aspergers) Rohan (7, NT) and Maeve (4, NT)
"My definition of housework is to sweep the room with a glance"
Follow my blog on http://mumsnet.com/blogs/kirsteinr/
My son is 11 (AS) and this is a recurring theme with him. As his mom, it breaks my heart to hear him say it so often, but I have to remind myself that he has difficulty expressing himself, and perhaps this is the strongest way he knows to convey his feelings of disappointment and frustration. He tends to be over-dramatic in general, so we don't get overly alarmed, but it doesn't make it any easier to hear. I do worrythat if he doesn't develop adequate coping skills that he will continue to become more isolated and depressed.
There was one time when he had a meltdown at school and told the teacher that he wanted to “make the ultimate sacrifice”. When they asked what he meant, he described when, where and how he would do it. They called us in to school and said we needed to take him for an emergency psychiatric evaluation at the hospital, and he would not be allowed back to school until he was cleared. We knew it was probably not as serious as it sounded, however we had no choice but to take him. After talking with the ER Ped. Psych., it was clear that he was using those words to express how terrible he was feeling, but that he did not intend to actually hurt himself. Still – very scary.
In addition to PDD/NOS, my son suffers from depression. He sees a therapist and a p-doc and is taking anti-depressants. I don't know if the depression