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Mom feels gaslit when teenage son takes on autistic TikTok persona. 'Is he a sociopath or on the spectrum?' AITA? MAJOR UPDATES.

Mom feels gaslit when teenage son takes on autistic TikTok persona. 'Is he a sociopath or on the spectrum?' AITA? MAJOR UPDATES.


When this mother is fully confused by her son's autistic behavior, she asks Reddit:

"My son has started "acting autistic" AITA?"

My son (16m) recently started following this account on Instagram/Tiktok by this mom who posts videos of her autistic teen son. The kid is low-functioning (I don't know the politically correct way to say this) and he can't talk, can't understand complicated concepts etc.

At first, my son started constantly referencing this account at inappropriate times like family dinner (making jokes about it, randomly showing me edits he made of the account), but that was harmless enough.

However, lately, my son has been imitating this kid and it's ruining my home life. When I ask him to do basic chores, he "stims" instead and refuses to do them.

When i ask what he wants for dinner, he lists off ingredients in this weird way that doesn't make any sense (ex. "chicken, taco, onion"). He won't even answer me in complete sentences anymore when we talk.

He's even doing random things around the house like dumping out entire cartons of milk into the sink and refusing to explain himself.

At first i laughed it off but this is actually making it impossible for my son to talk normally, he even randomly makes these noises when he's talking to his friends and I've gotten calls home from school.

I'm not saying it's bad to be autistic, but my son isn't and never has been, and this has started to interfere with his entire life. I am so upset with my son. His behavior is ruining my life.

Before we give you OP's major update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

ilovesquirrels writes:

I'm autistic and we've been seeing a lot of this in our communities. It's infuriating and harmful, because these folks (many are teens) come into online autism groups and begin talking about their 'autism' and it spreads a lot of misinformation.

So a message you can share if you like. I am a 48 year old female autistic. My life is very difficult. Although things you may see online show one side of us, our stimming (that we cannot control) or often 'odd' ways of communicating, these things impact our lives all day, every day.

We face a lot of struggles in the world, either by people not knowing about autism and thinking we are weird, or by others wanting to mimic a neurodevelopmental disorder that we were born with and can't control.

I often go weeks without being able to take a shower because of dread of sensory overload. I rarely leave my house because bright lights, loud noises and such cause so much internal overload that I become irritable or have seizures.

I often wet or soil myself because I can have problems telling in time when I need to go to the restroom. I know what I want to say, but am often misunderstood or my meaning taken the wrong way.

Please do not mimic us. We often lose our families and are unable to have relationships or friendships for many reasons that are directly related to our autism. By pretending to be like us, it's making fun of struggles that we would give anything not to have. Our life expectancy is lower, and a lot of this is due to suicide, because of things like this and how others treat us.

We cannot help the way our brains are and what it causes our bodies to do. We are often highly intelligent, even those of us who cannot speak. We see people like you, and it is crushing.

Our spaces are overrun by younger people feeling they have autism or pretending to have it, and it makes our already small world even smaller. It has become unsafe in many ways for us to be comfortable in online groups, because of things like this.

You don't want autism. It is not fun having a perfectly functioning mind and living in the world like we are locked in a glass room, witnessing the full lives and opportunities others have that we just don't have the ability to do, and nobody being able to fix it. We see what we are missing, and it hurts.

Please don't do what you are doing. We are real people, with all the emotions you have, just not the ability to get them across the right way.

dangerzone writes:

Your son is actively mocking a whole group of disabled people. I’m sorry it’s inconvenient for you but that’s really not the big problem here. The active disrespect to the entire autism community is. It sounds like you need to sit your son down and have a serious conversation.

Explain the at you understand he is trying to be humorous but this isn’t the way, help humanize autistic people and show him a path that leads to empathy. Because right now it sounds like your raising a monster.

Btw. Low functioning isn’t horrible but functioning labels in general are something a lot of us autistics prefer to avoid because they are a misnomer. I would be classified as high functioning, you would never know I’m autistic if I didn’t tell you.

I’m a college student getting a stem degree, I’ve been working as a self employed math tutor for years, I have a long term partner etc etc.

But that’s all what others see, autism still effects my life on a day to day basis and it takes an enormous amount of energy to maintain what others see. I still need help, I still need support. A better way to refer to autistic people is something like high/low needs.

I wish you luck in sorting out this situation with your son. If he continues on a path thinking this kind of behavior is acceptable, I worry the kind of man he will become.

infinite7 writes:

Hi there, teenage male autistic here. I would have a sit down talk with your son about the challenges real autistics face.

Wether it be sensory overload, tics and seizures, or even agoraphobia, maybe explaining that what he’s doing, even if he thinks it’s cute or will get him attention, is making a mockery of real people. People who struggle to exist, who lose their families and social lives.

Being autistic is difficult but many teens and tweens on the internet seem to think it’s sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes showing people the struggle makes them reconsider.

If that don’t work, tell him you’re booking a doctors appointment and that you want to support him in any way possible.

That might make him feel guilty but if he keeps up this delusion (maybe it’s not but it’s pretty obvious here) then he might get stuck in a psych ward for a few days and that’ll straighten him up I promise you that. Psych wards suck ass and are scary and very much a “scared straight” experience is what some people need. Best of luck with your son OP.

visibletune writes:

This is disturbing but so is the palpable ableism from you. He obviously needs to have his devices restricted, screen time limited MASSIVELY (on apple devices “screen time” is a great tool I even use to impose restrictions on myself… just go to his settings and password protect it so he can’t bypass it.)

But more importantly… he NEEDS you to tell him straight how inappropriate it is to mock disabled people. That’s what he’s doing. He’s not stimming. He’s mocking. He’s a fully functional person with no known disabilities who is using these symptomatic behaviors to garner some sort of reaction whether it’s because he thinks it’s funny, or because he gets sympathy, or whatever.

There are people online who have been pretending to be disabled for years to gain support and sympathy but also for financial gain. It’s a disgusting trend and not one I would allow my child to perpetuate. Get him in some sort of counseling straight away.

pineappletik writes:

It's tiktok. The way the tiktok algorithm works it's that you can't look up content, the content slowly get adjusted to your likes and dislikes. This is cool of you end up in crochet tiktok or something like that, but the mental health side of tiktok is really bad and really dangerous, especially considering that its main audience are still kids.

My cousin, now 16, became obsessed with depression tiktok when she was 14. She was a happy kid with loving parents, and I know this because her parents basically raised me and I (22 at the time) was living at their house.

Then she started dressing in "edgy" black clothes, nothing wrong with that. My uncle did complain actually but my aunt told him it was her way of expressing herself like teenagers do.

During the time I lived there I shared a room with her so I could sometimes catch a glimpse of her phone and it was always tiktoks about depression and trauma.

Then one day I noticed cuts on her arm and I asked her what it was and she said she had an accident while doing pottery. I started asking her constantly if she'd "done pottery" again, because I'm not stupid and because she knew it was a terrible excuse.

She cut herself two more times and after the third one I told her she would have to talk to her mom about therapy or I would because I couldn't just do nothing.

So she talked to her mom, and basically told her she wanted therapy because she'd been feeling badly, and her mom didn't believe her because she thought "she has no problems, what could she possibly be depressed about" and she was right...

she had no problems in her life, but tiktok did cause her a mental disorder, even if temporary, she will have those scars for life.

So she called me and told me her mom said no and didn't know what else to do. So I called my aunt and told her to please get her therapy, I didn't want to tell her about the cuts but I think she suspected at this point because she said "but why?

I just don't understand, if you could tell me what it is she has" but I just replied "whatever she told you it is, believe her" and she went to therapy, and got into crystal tiktok, and she's doing much better now.

Now in June of last year, 2022, a neighbor's kid, who was around 12 or 13 at the time, had to be hospitalized because in the span of 3 weeks she discovered anorexia tiktok, lost a lot of weight, stopped eating, they would find her exercising in the middle of the night, and she eventually collapsed.

She had to go to rehab, where the therapist found that it all in fact started because of tiktok. It may all be virtual, but it causes real life damage.

Then, OP provides this lengthy update about her son:

Hi everyone, I didn’t think I would do an update but I found out that my original post had blown up and gotten reposted on other platforms so I thought I would update you all.

After everyone’s recommendations in the comments of my original post, I decided to go ahead and restrict my son’s access to social media. After thinking about it for a while I decided to give him 15 minutes of supervised use of his phone every day, in case he had to text his friends.

However, whenever this time happened, my son would spend just a couple minutes checking and quickly answering his texts, and then he spent the rest of the 15 minutes just watching the new videos from/about this account he was obsessed with.

He would imitate the kid while watching the videos and show me all the posts about him that he found funny. The first few times when I took away his phone after 15 minutes he would get upset about it (dropping the autism act) and try to get more time, but that quickly stopped when I threatened to limit the time even more.

After over a week he seemed to still be just as obsessed with this account and imitating the kid’s mannerisms, so I thought I might have to take even more measures to make him stop.

However, soon afterwards, I received a call from my son’s school’s principal. It turns out one of the kids in his class had an autistic sibling and found his behaviour offensive and annoying, so they reported him to the principal, who had brought him in to talk and gave him detention and was threatening worse if this continued.

This finally brought my son to stop doing this– in school and, after I spoke to him about his principal calling me, at home too. I made him unfollow the account on social media and then I gave him normal access to his phone again.

He has never explained to me what was motivating him to act the way he did, but I think it was a combination of encouragement from his friends (who found his accurate impressions of this kid funny and would call it “going [name of the autistic kid] mode”) and using it as a weird way to get out of doing work around the house.

A month or so later once this had all blown over, my son was looking at Instagram and saw my original post re-posted over a clip of someone playing a video game. He asked me about it and I told him it was me.

He was a bit angry but I think he realized he couldn’t get too mad at me for it after what he had been doing. Just this week, my son saw a fake update post on the same account where someone had made up an “update” to my original post which I didn’t write. Because of that I thought I should make this update telling you what actually happened.

What is YOUR take on OP's dilemma? Any parenting advice for her?

Sources: Reddit
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