If you are caring for and raising a teenager with autism, then there is no doubt you would be having a tough time. You might be wondering how to raise an autistic teen without hurting his emotional, psychological and physical persona.
In that case, there is some respite for you! This post deals with autism in teenagers and what you, as a concerned parent can do about it.
Read on to know how you can help your teen during this phase.
What Is Autism?
The term autism is used to refer a range of developmental disorders. While some people may be born with it, others may develop them early in life. The range of disorders that falls under this category is also known as autism spectrum. A person suffering from any condition in this range is said to have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (1).
[ Read: Oppositional Defiant Disorder In Teenagers ]
Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Teenagers:
A teenager who has ASD may have trouble with verbal and non-verbal communication. Here are cert
- May take words in the literal sense. For example, a simple phrase like ‘pull your socks up’ may lead the teenager to pull his or her socks up.
- May have trouble in taking turns in a conversation.
- May want to talk the entire time.
- May not want to say anything when asked a question.
- May want to talk a lot about a certain topic but have nothing to say about a wider range of topics.
- May have a different tone of voice that is not usual as per age.
- May speak in a monotone.
- May have trouble in maintaining eye contact.
- May not be able to understand body language or a particular tone of voice.
- May not be able to understand other’s emotion through voice or expression.
- May not use gestures or use very few gestures to express thoughts or needs.
- May find it difficult to relate to other teens of a similar age group.
- May want to interact with children younger in age or adults far grown up.
- May want to be left alone and not interact.
- May not be able to follow instructions when steps to follow are more than one or two.
- May talk in a very formal way.
- May have no real friends or very few.
- May find it difficult to understand socializing rules.
- May be obsessed with certain interests.
- May have compulsive behavioral disorder.
- May be unusually emotional or sensitive.
- May get attached to things too soon or too much.
- May be likely to get upset if routine is not followed.
- May have unusual body movements or make repetitive noises.
- May get upset by sudden sounds or textures.
- May have difficulty in sleeping.
- May be depressed, anxious or feel overwhelmed.
- May show aggressive behaviour.
- May have eating disorders.
[ Read: Anxiety Disorders In Teenagers ]
Getting Diagnostic Help:
Most places have a health and medical service where you do not need to pay anything for the diagnosis of your teen’s autism. But there is a fair chance that you may need to go on a waiting list that may take long actually to work.
Helping At Home:
Teenagers with autism face the double challenge of coping with adolescence and living with autism. However, here are a few activities for teenagers with autism that you can try at home (3):
1. Show Empathy:
As a parent, you have to try and understand how your teen sees life with autism. You need to understand the difficulties faced by your teen and try and look at things from your teen’s perspective.
2. Maintain A Routine:
Teens or anyone with autism will always find comfort in routine. If your teen knows what to follow and when, it will be easier for your teen to cope. This will help them predict for what is coming and will prevent any anxiety. Try and maintain the same routine for your teen every day. Seeing new faces can also trigger anxiety in teens with autism. Try and avoid introducing your teen to new people suddenly.
[ Read: Social Anxiety Disorder In Teenagers ]
Having autism does not mean your teen can’t do anything. You can set small tasks for your teen to accomplish based on your teen’s liking and preference. This will give your teen a sense of achievement. This will improve their self-confidence and self-esteem and give a boost to your teen’s mood too.
4. Communicate With Your Teen’s Caregiver:
Regularly talk to others who are in contact with your teen. This could be a teacher, a caregiver or even your teen’s doctor. Understand your teen’s behavior when he or she is with them. They may provide you an insight that you may not have seen earlier.
[ Read: Bipolar Disorder Symptoms In Teenagers ]
Taking help from others who have teens with autism can be a good way to understand and help your teen. This will let you learn from others’ experiences and also let your teen mix with other children with the same behavioral issues. Do speak to your teen’s doctor to know how you can help.
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