Gay difficult child and autism diagnoses

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by red, Nov 10, 2009.

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  1. red

    red New Member

    I'm throwing this out there because people on this site have so many great ideas and this is one of our problems. Our difficult child is also gay and we find that therapists and school officials have been and are very very concerned about his social interactions with peers. The problem is that, as a gay guy, in elementary school he only wanted to friends with the girls. They didn't want to be friends with him or thought he was trying to date them. He didn't understand the boys because they rode bicycles and cared about football. So he made no friends at all. Now he has friends at school (the weird kids), but he is still considered AS or autistic in some way. Has anybody else experienced anything like this? The whole diagnosis seems to comes down to whether or not he has friends, but that is so muddled by the confused gender identity that it is hard to tell.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    No experience here with either problem. But, I wonder if anyone can be sure at this point if he really is dealing with both. Obviously, there is a gender identity question going on with him, but if he is AS, I would wonder if maybe thhe effect on his ability to relate to some groups of kids is contributing to this and maybe it's not really that he is gay. Also, maybe he is gay and the difficulty socializing has appeared as AS.

    We do have members that might be able to offer some insight into the effect of AS, I'm just not one of them.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

  4. red

    red New Member

    Well, that was the thing. When he was in elementary school and early on in high school, they said how can you know and what a terrible thing to say about your son (and these were the psychologists). But now he is out, so there is no question. He came out last year. Even though being gay isn't a DSM IV, it confuses everything. His social cues are mixed up and the other kids don't know how to deal with him. It only matters because we need to figure out how functional he is so that we can pick a college that fits him. You know, the more I think about autism being a spectrum instead of these specialized classifications, the more I like the idea. We feel that he has been very lightly touched with autism, just enough to make him slightly off. So people know there is something wrong, but they can't quantify what. I was just wondering if there were any other parents with special needs gay children out there, because we have found that they have surprisingly similar experiences. For example, Joe was basically catatonic in third grade, did nothing at all. And then we learned from another parent that his gay son was catatonic in school for three years, so we thought maybe that's not special needs, but orientation. Anyway, I thought I'd give it a shot.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What do you mean by catatonic? Completely non-responsive? Dulled? Because if so these are Aspie traits. The kids tend to seem unexicted and often (not always) talk in a monotone and don't "get" jokes and can be confused. It, however, is not a mental illness, but a neurological difference.

    Also, being gay doesn't cause one to be catatonic, I don't believe. We have a few gay chatters. Maybe they can help out here, but I never heard of that.
  6. TPaul

    TPaul Idecor8

    Dear Red,
    I have close friends that are gay and have been since their mid teens. I do not think from my talks with them that ones gender identity can be known from a very young age. A male child can be viewed as effeminate from actions, but that can be a learned behavior. I don't think that the ca tonic state has anything to do with the sexual orientation. It seems that there are underlying cause that are being viewed as part of a gender identity.

    I think that their may be some confusion between the gender identity and the emotional-mental condition that have been intertwined for some reason. You said that he came out last year at twelve? The statements that he related more to some things that the girls did, and not boys because they where riding bicycles and football? There are lots of straight guys who where not into cycling and football, but like cooking and gardening? Those activities are not part of a gender idientity but of person preference. Could not these things being considered gay influence what he feels about himself and his sexual identity?

    Honestly, until a person is old enough to become sexually active and experienced they can not know if they are straight, bisexual or gay.

  7. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    First of all, homosexuality is NOT gender identification. A person who is gay still identifies as being within the gender they were born with. A person with incorrect gender ID literally feels as if they were born into the same body. To add to the confusion, it is possible for a person to be both cross=gendered AND homosexual.

    It can get very confusing and my own experiences with this are too much information to fhare.

    True catatonia is when the person does not respond to outside stimuli at all. It's as if they've become totally disconnected from the world around them. It is very uncommon and most frequently associated with schizophrenia.

    What you might be seeing as catatonia could be what is called "flat affect". It is not uncommon in higher functioning Aspies and others on the autistic scale. It comes from difficulty with interpreting communication properly and in presenting responses with proper emotion.

    I present to strangers with a flat affect, though I am actually quite animated and responsive dealing with people I am comfortable with.

    Some of that affect even comes across in my writing. I often find it difficult to communicate or respond to other's emotions even in writing. I know how I would feel in a similar situation, but am unsure of how to translate that into putting myself into another person's shoes.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I interpreted the poster's comment about this to mean that maybe he was not comfortable interacting with other kids at that time due to struggling with his own identity. That he had become withdrawn maybe or thought he would be shunned. I could be wrong- that's just the way I took it.

    I did want to clarify my first post- when I said I hadn't dealt with either of these problems, I didn't mean that her son's question about sexual orientation was a problem- as in being gay was a "problem", I meant the struggles it has caused him socializing and her difficulty trying to sort out what is what are problems my son and I have not had to deal with- at least yet.
  9. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I know someone very well who is gay. He has known since he was at least 8. In those days, at age 8, we did not know about gay and straight. (At least I didn't and I don't think he did.) He knew though that he was "different".

    Other kids did pick on him. He did have friends. Often, they were girls but not always. He would not have qualified as AS or anything like that. He was never catatonic or had a flat affect. I think somehow kids knew there was something different about him. Twenty years later, he met up with a girl from his neighborhood (who was also gay) and she said he never did a good job of hiding it.

    So while I think being gay could cause social problems, I don't think it would cause a diagnosis by itself. But this is my opinion only, based only on this one person.
  10. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I also wanted to add that I think you can find a therapist that specializes in GLBT issues. That person could help you figure out if there are any other diagnosis'es and might be helpful with the other issues in being gay in today's world.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I think that's a very good idea, Hope, if it's a therapist familiar with working with kids on this issue.
  12. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Red -

    Hi there. I'm not sure I'm understanding the diganoses that was given to you by your psychiatrist, but I'm trying to get the full picture. Can you give me a little more background of what/why the doctor thinks that your son being gay has anything to do with his decision to dg him one way or the other with Aspergers vs. Autism? Just trying to understand better so I can get a clear picture.

    One thing I do not link regardless is the catatonic state with his sexuality, and the other friend who also happens to be gay. I think that is just a very uncanny coincidence. I know a lot of times when I was trying to piece my sons history and background life puzzle together I would also not leave any stone unturned so I understand why that seems to fit - but I've got to give it a no. I'm not gay or bi or transgendered, but I grew up around several people who are, and would glady point you towards an expert in the subject of such things at NYU in New York.

    Come on back - maybe we can take one thing at a time and talk it through and help you.

    Hugs -
  13. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    You are also welcome to PM me if you want to talk further. husband and I both had a rather tangled history in this respect. I also have a gay nephew and a dear friend who is trans-gendered AND gay.

    I always joke that I can't be in drag because I am wearing women's panties, LoL.
  14. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Simple answer: one has nothing to do with the other.

    If he is autistic, it is not because he is gay; and he is not gay because he is autistic.

    I would also like to stress that homosexuality and gender identity are two separate things.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    From what I understand, gender identity means you aren't sure if you were supposed to be a male or a female. You may be a male with all the right parts, but you feel like a female.

    That is way different than being a gay male.

    I have no gay friends, but my younger daughter knows many who are out of the closet. We spoke about this tonight. She told me that they have all told her they always knew they were different and were attracted to boys, then men at early ages. I recall myself having crushes on boys at an extremely early age...I'm heterosexual. in my opinion it's neither always something you discover late nor a mental illness. It's kind of like being lefthanded. It's not how most people are, but a lot of people are sort of born that way.

    It would have little to do with Aspergers. All kids with Aspergers have various degrees of social awkwardness. My son has it and he also gravitates to the "brains" or "geeks." That's ok. I'm just glad he has friends at all. (He is straight).
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    MWM, you beat me to it.

    TPaul, you said,
    You would think so, but in fact it's not always the case. Friends of mine (male and female) whose sexual preference is for same-sex, have told me that they always knew. From my own knowledge of these people, "I always knew" may not have been from their earliest years but certainly well before they became sexually active. Both said they were attracted to same sex from their first attraction to anybody.

    I remember having a crush on a same-sex teacher at school in my early teens but it was brief and I did not tell anybody. It worried me at the time. Plus at the same time I also had crushes on boys. I don't consider myself to be a lesbian but I have noted that I tend to be more aware of a 'vibe' from gay women. Not always and I wouldn't call it an attraction. And it's not simply strong women, either - my two best friends are both very capable, very strong women and neither is gay in the slightest. Nor do I get that vibe from them.

    Gay male friends - some didn't know until after they married and had kids (that's what I call DENIAL!). Others knew before they hit puberty.

    But this case - I think it's possibly very different.

    First, I strongly urge you to get him thoroughly assessed by a neuropsychologist, looking at the behaviour and possible autism component. The sexual orientation/gender issues are, I'm convinced, entirely coincidental. Just as it's possible to have asthma and osteoarthritis, so it is possible to have two separate 'conditions' (if we classify the sexual stuff as a condition).

    Whatever the sexual orientation/gender identity stuff is, medicine is now fairly much in agreement that it's in the brain. We know tat autism is also in the brain. However, I believe that is where the connection ends.

    If 1% of the population is on the autism spectrum, and 1% of the population have gender identity dysmorphia, then the chance of having both (if the conditions are unrelated) is 1% x 1% or 1 in 10,000. Rare, but not impossible.

    A person at husband's work is a dignosed Aspie and also has just finished the process of sex change from male to female. Actually, he's stopped short - he hasn't gone through with the full conversion to female, he has simply become neuter.

    Sexual identity is often very complicated. We think in terms of male is male, female is female and that is it. And also that a male preferring other males as partners, is homosexual. But a male who considers himself to be a female in a male body, would not consider him/herself to be homosexual, but in reality having normal female desires.

    Your child is 13. That is very young, to be already so very sure. So on top of the neuropsychologist for the autism-like features, you need to have the child seen by someone who is an expert in gender identity issues. Preferably someone balanced, not someone on a crusade (of either kind).

    Interestingly we had a TV episode on this just a few days ago - a rival TV show to 60 Minutes (the same program that interviewed me and difficult child 3 a month ago, it hasn't aired yet) did a story on the world's youngest sex change case. It was a very well-balanced story, covering some very concerning questions, including "what if the person changes their minds?" They quoted research in Amsterdam, I believe it was (I'll post a link to the transcript for you) claiming that in fact anyone that determined doesn't change their minds. I'm not ready to believe that (until I read the reserch for myself) but if an impartial, careful psychiatrist really delves into the child's psyche, any underlying influences on the child tat could be responsible for such confusion should be identified and treated. For example, husband's co-worker - he had a very confused and damaging childhood, his mother was a man-hating nut case and taught her son that all men are sex-mad rapists - he couldn't accept that his maleness would make this even a possibility, so he the only way he could cope was to identify as female and also eliminate all maleness from his body. Was there also an innate component? Possibly, but there was a lot of confusion. However, after 20 years of constant psychiatric assessment and attempts to dissuade him, he has persisted in his path and claims to feel much more content now.

    But I don't believe you can psychoanalyse away a gender identity issue that is innate.

    I know this is an uncomfortable topic for some members - I'm sorry if what I'm writing here is confronting. But it is an issue I have studied (morbid fascination? Because I have friends who have issues in this spectrum?)

    Whatever the real picture here - it is VITAL to properly identify the exact problems, learn the correct labels for what you describe (to avoid any confusion) and work on it piecemeal.

    A few things to consider - I know I said that the possible autism needs to be considered as separate to the possible gender identity issues, but there is a possibility that some other aspects of the gender identity stuff could have some secondary psychological fallout which could be getting misdiagnosed as autism.
    For example - a kid who insists on identifying with the opposite sex, is a kid who is gonig to be socially a misfit.
    Autism trait No 1.

    A kid who is insistent that he is misunderstood, that nobody understands him, that he MUST force the issue and live as he feels is being true to his innate nature - this is bordering on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). ALso often an autism trait.

    High-functioning autistic kids will also often obsess on their favourite topic. They find one thing (sometimes more) and that is their intense focus. It becomes the be all and end all to their living. For difficult child 3, it's computers and computer games. he's a walking encyclopedia, in his computing studies classes at school he getss almost full marks. If instead of computers, it was all things female (and wanting to live as a female) then yes, it could seem to be a gender identity issue.

    I do beleive you are likely to be dealing with either separate conditions, or a really strong identification with himself as female, to such an intense degree that the resultant behavioural problems (because he's a kid trying to sort this out and even adults have problems with this) are making him seem to be mildly autistic.

    In which case - I would be putting a priority of sorts onto the investigations.

    1) see the gender identity specialistfirst, get an opinion on whether any of this could explain the other behaviour problems/possible autism-like manifestations.


    2) See the neuropsychologist and especially ask for some understanding of everything that a possible hypothetical gender identity issue cannot explain. basically, give the neuropsychologist what is left and ask for an opinion.

    On the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/autism stuff, a lot of us here can help. But as a rule, we haven't had a lot to deal with concerning gender identity here. Some parents here have kids who have other problems as well as being gay. Again, unlikely to be a connection.

    Here is the link I promised you - remember, sexual orientation and gender identity are very complex issues. Again, they're a spectrum. Still not well understood, still easy to get it wrong. A teenage kid goes through purgatory with developing sexuality; if they have any issues in this department, the psychological fallout is way more intense.

    From the website, here is the blog of a father whose child was born male but is determined to have a sex change for an 18th birthday present.

    And here is the link to the site - there is a video link to the story of the youngest transexual in the world.

    I'm not saying your son is transexual - the issue is far more complex than that, or simple homosexuality. I can't tell you which it is. You need an expert to help you all through this. But I would urge you to see someone soon because something has to be done fast, from whichever angle you look at this.

    If you believe this sort of thing is wrong and unnatural, the child needs help now.

    If you believe this child is genuinely homosexual, then he needs help now in order to help him cope with the fallout of coming out.

    If you believe this is a case of gender identity dysmorphia and you support the possibility of sex change, he needs help now to block puberty. This block is reversible at any time; but once male onset of puberty begins (deeper voice, wider shoulders, adams apple etc) it can't be undone by a sex change later in life. A later sex change would be far more obvious with the deeper voice, broder shoulders, adams apple etc.

    And with all the stuff that is happening with him, YOU guys need help to cope with all the changes and the emotional fallout for you as parents.

    This is very complex, you need help form a number of areas.

    We can help with as much as we can.

    Do let us know how you get on.

  17. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    a couple things pop out to me when reading your post. It appears your son has had a number of dxs and noone is quite certain where that stands now. If he is an aspie, the social interactions can be problematic, especially at a time when they can also be so for typical kids.

    I'm really not sure I understand the whole bike riding, football playing comment because, at least for me, areas of physical acticity don't equate to sexual preference, just sexual bias and stereotypes. Additionally, and I know other posters have addressed this issue, sexual preference and sexual identity are two totally different things. I'm sure, as a gay woman, you understand these differenes but perhaps your words didn't quite come out right.

    I do believe, very strongly, that sexual preference is not always delayed until sexual activity or experience. To put it in the words someone in your and my generation can relate to, he would be drawn more to Keith Partridge than Laura Partridge! I have a brother and two cousins who are gay (three seperate brother's children and certainly my family is a study into the genetic factors of homosexuality!) and all of them will tell you that even from a young age they were "attracted" more to the same sex. Not attracted in a sexual way at first, but more in a relatability and comfortableness (is that a words?).

    I would highly suggest that you try your best and get a referral to a therapist or psychiatrist that specializes and is sensative to the issues your son is dealing with. Not only is his sexuallity in question, but he lives in a home with two gay woman which could subject him to social ostracism by his peers. Add on top of that his aspie traits, and he's dealing with a loaded plate. It's really important, in my opinion, that he find someone he can talk to, be himself with, and relate to.

  18. Shampoo Guru

    Shampoo Guru New Member

    As a gay man and high functioning AS, I can relate to your son. All through elementary school, my friends were girls, and if I did play with boys, they were my younger brother's friends. Boys my age were always running to the field to play baseball, and football... none of which appealed to me, and when I had to interact with them, my lack of coordination and athletic ability made me the subject of ridicule. I should add that I attended school in the early to mid 70s, so I wasn't diagnosed as AS until adulthood, and while terms like gay and homo were used, it was more about a boy being perceived as different. My school was located directly behind our house, so my father would watch over the fence during recess and stress over the fact that I was hanging out on the "monkey bars" with the girls rather than "throwing the ball around" with the boys. I also had a teacher scold me and prohibit me for hanging out with my brother and his friends instructing me to go make friends my own age. In terms of my gayness, looking back, I know that I had crushes on boys as early as Kindergarten, but I had no way of verbalizing or understanding this fact until I was older. I would like to add that contrary to some of the statements previously posted, being gay is not a gender identity issue. I was always a boy who was attracted to boys. I associated with girls, because they didn’t judge or ridicule me the way that boys did. I never perceived myself as feminine; although, my AS interfered with my social interactions and limited my athletic interest and abilities.
  19. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    i agree that the two are seperate issues. no doctor is going to give a diagnosis of aspergers or autism bases solely on fitting in with peers. there are alot of other factors involved and any medical professional would be aware that not all kids with social problems are aspies. when it comes to sports, ect. aspies are often unco-ordinated and lack muscle tone so of course they would not be into football or biking. i also don't think being gay or transgendered as a child would keep them from having friends. from what i've seen there will be groups that pick on them for being different but also a lot of open-minded kids that would go out of their way to befriend them. my brother came out in college and he never had any issues with sports or doing 'guy' stuff or fitting in, so i would not associate that with sexual orientation.
  20. seriously

    seriously New Member

    This is from 2009 folks.
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