Teens with Autism: How Parents Can Navigate the Unique Challenges
Worsening Symptoms of ASD May Not Be What They Seem
As children grow older, parents sometimes wonder if their autism spectrum disorder is worsening. In reality, the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may simply become more obvious as some behaviors can no longer be written off as typical childhood behavior. Like a neurotypical teenager, a teen on the autism spectrum may become moody, uncommunicative, and uncooperative, yet they may not have the same ability to express these feelings.
The result is a stressful experience for everyone involved. Parents should remember that adolescence is a challenging period for every child, and some of the changes you’re seeing may be the result of fluctuating hormones. Find a way to relieve stress and seek productive outlets that help your teen cope as well.
Start Thinking About Accommodations That Can Serve Your Child into Adulthood
One reason the teenage years hit many parents so hard is the realization that their child is no longer a child and in fact is well on their way to adulthood. While you may be overwhelmed with the stress of getting through the changes day by day, it’s also a good time to start thinking about the accommodations your child may need as an adult.
You can begin to research programs and local opportunities that will help your child become as independent as possible in adulthood. Consider the need for caregivers and any legal issues that may need to be addressed, such as setting up a special needs trust that will ensure your child is provided for throughout life.
Address Social Needs and Daily Routines
As your child enters adolescence, the routines and structures that you relied on throughout their childhood may no longer be adequate. Does your child need a period of down time to decompress after school, rather than diving right into homework? What extracurricular activities can your child participate in that will enhance social development?
It’s a good idea to revisit these questions and others to make adjustments to your daily routine that will help your teen thrive. For instance, it may be an appropriate time to begin allowing your teen to make more of their own choices, whereas it may have been simpler in childhood to simply choose their clothing each day.
Above all, be patient with your teen. They are likely feeling the same mix of emotions as you are, but perhaps even more so as they must adapt to changing circumstances in school, the possibility of peer pressure or bullying, and maybe even a more acute awareness of being different. Coupled with the hormonal changes and general frustration that most teens experience, these changes and emotional upheaval create a recipe for disaster.
Let your teen know that you, too, are enduring some changes along with them, and that you’re there to help them adapt to the changes they’re experiencing. Listen to your teen if they express frustration with the same routines you’ve had since childhood. Be flexible and willing to modify on the fly so that you and your teen can continue moving forward and building your relationship while you navigate the tumultuous teenage years together.
Homeschooling mum of 4 children
Aims to connect with other homeschoolers and provide advice
Picture taken from Pixabay