If you’re a parent dealing with autism in your child’s teen years, you’re not alone as there are a growing number of teenagers with ASD. While it can be challenging, with the right information, you will have help through these difficult years, so that both the parent and teen can enjoy this special time. This is possible if you know what to expect and how to help your teenager when they’re going through a difficult phase.
When you combine physical and hormonal changes and add autism into the mix, it may seem impossible for a teenager to deal with all of these changes, especially if they struggle with behavioural control which many teens with autism do. High school is hard enough as it is, so as a parent it’s only natural to be concerned about how your child will deal with the social aspect of it and fit in. This period in a teen’s life comes with many demands, including changing classes, keeping track of homework assignments, following complex instructions and completing projects just to name a few. Your teen will need help planning and organizing which parents can do by providing a greater level of support that can also come from the school. Whether its weekly parent-school meetings or teachers checking to see whether or not assignments are done correctly, your teen will benefit from this additional support. Breaking up projects into smaller steps is another way of helping so that your teen does not feel overwhelmed. It is very important for the teenager to feel like they have the support they need both at school and at home.
It is also recommended to teach your child about puberty early because they may have a harder time understanding it and preparing them early on will prevent them from becoming worried whenever they start to notice changes in their body. While these changes are natural, a teenager with autism may not see it that way unless they are prepared. The same applies to groom and personal hygiene and it’s likely that many teens with autism will need reminders to do things like shower and shave. This is because they may not understand the importance of it and how it relates to social acceptance or they may not have the desire to smell and look clean. Figure out whether the problem is a sensory issue or lack of understanding so that you can help accordingly.
The teen years can be a time of frustration and uncertainty for many adolescents with autism, which is why additional support and understanding are so important. The social world is a tough place to navigate through and teens with ASD can feel isolated as they have a harder time making friends due to problems they face with their communication skills.
If you think that your child could benefit from speech therapy, contact Shelley Ortved who is a speech pathologist in Toronto and specializes in preschool speech and language. Book an appointment for more information today!