Other Issues Associated With Autism
Older autistic children and teenagers often have other issues as well. These might include:
- difficulty with sleep for example, they might have difficulty falling asleep, or might regularly wake up or have broken sleep patterns
- anxiety or feeling overwhelmed for example, they might feel anxious about going to new places, or being in social situations
- depression older autistic children and teenagers who are aware of their differences are also often aware of how others see them and can feel like outsiders. These feelings of low mood might be intensified by changing hormone levels during puberty
- aggressive behaviour they often have sensory sensitivities that can lead to sudden aggressive behaviour. They might have difficulty understanding whats going on around them, which can lead to frustration building up
- eating disorders for example, they might have difficulty moving to secondary school and might develop an eating disorder to cope with feelings of anxiety
- difficulty with organisational skills they might find the increase in complexity at secondary school hard to manage
- school refusal they might feel overwhelmed or confused at school. They might also be vulnerable to bullying at school
- gender dysphoria autistic children and teenagers can be more likely than other children and teenagers to identify as a gender thats different from the sex they were assigned at birth. If they feel distressed about this its called gender dysphoria.
Getting Diagnosed With Autism As An Older Teen Or Young Adult
What happens when a diagnosis of autism is delayed or overlooked for autistic teenagers or adults?
Ideally, all autistic kids would get diagnosed as young as possible, hopefully by age three years or younger.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern.
Concerned About Your Childs Development?
That way they can start therapy or get accomodations, if necessary, as soon as possible.
The Potential For Seizures Can Increase During Puberty
The chance of your autistic teen having seizures during puberty is four to one. The cause is not known but is believed to be brought about by hormonal changes in the body.
Teens with autism might also experience subclinical seizures during puberty. Subclinical seizures are seizures that are too faint that they can go unnoticed. Several diagnostic tests can be done to find out if a teen with autism is experiencing seizures so if you have a concern, contact your childs doctor.
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How Is Autism Diagnosed
Doctors check babies and little kids for signs of autism at each checkup visit. A parent may think that something is wrong and tell the doctor. Maybe the child is old enough to speak but doesn’t. Or a kid doesn’t seem interested in people or plays in unusual ways.
If the doctor suspects autism, a team of experts will evaluate a child.
Signs Of Autism In Young Children
Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are usually clear by two or three years old. The range of behaviors and skills covered here may become apparent between two years old and five years old.
Some signs that a child has autism spectrum disorder may include:
- Not expressing emotion or only a limited range of emotions
- Difficulty interpreting different emotions in others
- Not seeming attached to parents
- Lacking interest in playing social games or the company of other children
- Interest in playing with one particular toy or object
- Echolalia, repeating other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s words or phrases
- Repeating own words over and over
- Using formal language and expressions, rather than the slang of their peers
- Not developing language skills at all
- Difficulty toilet training
- Challenging behaviour, such as banging head on wall or picking at skin
- Engages in behavior such as flapping hands, rocking or twirling
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty interpreting what other people are thinking and feeling, and often miss social cues. A child with autism may not be able to tell the difference between an adult who says Ã¢â¬Åcome hereÃ¢â¬ï¿½ while happy and smiling, and an adult who says Ã¢â¬Åcome hereÃ¢â¬ï¿½ while angry and frowning. This can be confusing and creates the impression the child is not connecting with people.
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Why Do Some Young People Get A Late Diagnosis
It is common for a young person to get a late diagnosis if they are high functioning or academically able. This also occurs more in girls than in boys, as girls are generally more adept at copying neuro-typical behaviours, including verbal and non-verbal communication in order to mask their autism.
Late diagnosis can happen because there is some ambiguity which makes it difficult to be sure a young person has autism, or because other conditions have presented as being their primary need e.g. challenging behaviour or ADHD. Typically, children are also often able to cope in a primary school environment but find the increasing demand of secondary school very stressful, leading to their difficulties becoming more apparent.
Growing Numbers Of Teens With Asd
Chantal Sicile-Kira says nobody told her what to expect when her son with autism, now 24, became a teenager. Jeremy Sicile-Kira was born when autism was considered to be relatively rare just before the tide of diagnoses began rising in the 1990s. “Nobody ever told us anything about adolescence and autism,” she said.
Today, many more parents have children with autism entering or already in their teens.1 Ms. Sicile-Kira tries to educate them through her books, speeches and seminars on autism spectrum disorders .
One common complaint she hears from parents: their teens’ autism is getting worse. But that may be a misunderstanding, she said.
“The teens are not getting more noncompliant because their autism is getting worse. It’s because they’re teenagers,” said Ms. Sicile-Kira, author of Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum. Like all teens, they may want more independence. Parents can help: “If your child needs schedules, for example, give him more control over his schedule. That gives him a way to be ‘noncompliant'” to have his own way sometimes.
Research into autism in the teen years and beyond is still in its infancy: “very little is known about the course of ASD through adolescence and into young adulthood,” one study said.1
Autism is a broad spectrum, and adolescence will affect each child differently. If recent studies are an indication, parents generally can expect some of the following along their child’s road to adulthood:
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Autism In Teens: Helping Your Child Through Puberty
Guest post by child psychologist Ariella Silver and adolescent social worker Jordan Wishner, of New York Citys Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, which provides free, comprehensive and confidential health and wellness care to young people ages 10 to 24.
During puberty, teens experience changes in their bodies, become more focused on who is and isnt cool, and start to experience sexual and romantic urges. These changes can be tough for anyone. But for kids on the autism spectrum and their families, this time can be particularly challenging.
As specialists in autism and mental health care who work with teens every day at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, were here to help families figure out what to expect when children on the spectrum reach puberty and how to help their adolescents through this period of change.
We hope you find our advice post a useful addition to the Autism Speaks ATN/AIR-P Puberty and Adolescence Resource: A Guide for Parents, available for from the Autism Speaks website.
Changing bodiesEveryones body changes during puberty. When boys hit puberty, the voice lowers in pitch and the penis grows larger. When girls reach puberty, breasts grow larger, menstruation starts. In both sexes, puberty brings the growth of pubic and armpit hair and an increased tendency for acne. These changes can be tough for anyone. But many children on the autism spectrum find these body changes deeply alarming.
Autistic Teenagers & Adults
So what happens when an autism diagnosis is delayed?
Among the responses were many from people who didnt get diagnosed until they were adults. Some had suspicions about their condition growing up. For others, the diagnosis was a revelation as much as it was a relief.
When An Autism Diagnosis Comes In Adulthood
For one thing, you hopefully quickly understand that you are not alone, which becomes easier as you read the stories of other adult diagnosed autistic people.
If you know youre autistic, are beginning to wonder, share similarities with autistic people, or want to support an adult autistic friend or family memberor if you simply want to know why its so important that autistic adults know were autisticthis book is for you.
Knowing Why: Adult-Diagnosed Autistic People on Life and Autism
And you learn that support is available if you need it, no matter what stage of life you are in, whether you are in high school, starting college, looking for a job, or getting married, etc.
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Diagnosing Autism In Teenagers
The process of getting diagnosed with autism during the teenage years is no different from that of getting a diagnosis at an early age, but it will involve more questions about the teens behavior in school and how he/she interacts with peers.
A formal diagnosis might involve one or more experts in the field of autism such as developmental pediatricians, psychiatrist, psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists.
The diagnostic procedures can include:
- An interview with parent or caregiver
- Actual observation of all interactions with others
- A physical exam to rule out other medical conditions
- A developmental screening
Once a teen has been diagnosed, a qualified pediatrician can recommend how to move forward with beneficial behavioral therapies and treatments.
What Resources Are Available For Teens On The Spectrum
While many psychologists agree that early intervention can reduce many of the social difficulties people on the spectrum face, it is never too late for teens to look for resources. Teens who go through therapy see results that allow them to ease problematic behaviors, improve social interactions and better their own quality of life.
While there are a variety of support groups available in the community for teens on the spectrum, residential treatment centers integrate a variety of therapeutic modalities for teens who need additional support.
Available resources may include:
- Practical life skills training
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Signs And Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop. We still have much to learn about these causes and how they impact people with ASD.
There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people. They may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The abilities of people with ASD can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives others can work and live with little to no support.
ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a persons life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD gain new skills and meet developmental milestones, until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.
Can A Person Develop Autism After Early Childhood
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
There is no official diagnosis called “late-onset autism.” In fact, the DSM-5, which lists and describes all developmental and mental disorders states that the onset of symptoms is in the early developmental period.
Still, there are plenty of articles out there about children who appear to regress after developing normally throughout their earliest years. And there are plenty of people who seem to develop autistic symptoms as teens or even adults.
So does regressive or late-onset autism actually exist? What do we know about it so far?
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Social Communication And Interaction Skills
Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.
Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include:
- Avoids or does not keep eye contact
- Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
- Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
- Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
- Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age
- Does not share interests with others
- Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age
- Does not notice when others are hurt or sad by 24 months of age
- Does not pretend in play
- Shows little interest in peers
- Has trouble understanding other peoples feelings or talking about own feelings at 36 months of age or older
- Does not play games with turn taking by 60 months of age
How Can I Help A Friend With Autism
People with ASD have a very wide array of signs and symptoms. Some people with ASD do not feel that they have a disorder and don’t want to change. They’re proud of who they are and they want to be accepted, even though they may have different strengths and weaknesses than most other people.
All people deserve respect. But people with ASD may be teased, bullied, or left out because they’re different. Bullying and teasing are never the right way to treat other people, but it may be hard to be a friend with someone who has ASD.
People with ASD often don’t understand playful jokes or sarcasm. You may need to be very clear and factual when you communicate with someone who has ASD.
Try to be patient and kind. Remember how hard it might be for the person with ASD to understand how to be a friend. Stand up for classmates who are bullied. Tell adults, so they can help protect kids who are bullied.
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Diagnosing Autism In Girls
The phenomenon of masking autism symptoms is more pronounced in girls than in boys. Traditionally, girls are more likely to act in very passive ways, to avoid being thought of as troublemakers. What might appear to be quiet and submissive behavior could actually be undiagnosed autism that the girl was born with and did not develop.
Because the symptoms of autism can be as subtle as they are, this means that people who are high-functioning on the autism spectrum can go for years without an appropriate diagnosis, leading to the belief that they developed their autism as they aged.
For example, adults with high-functioning autism can have relatively mild social and communication challenges when compared to people with more recognizable symptoms of autism. This has led many such adults to be mistakenly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Similarly, many girls with high-functioning autism are also misdiagnosed because their autism does not fit the stereotypes of the disability. No two presentations of autism spectrum disorder are exactly the same, and some presentations are outside the norm.
High-functioning individuals can also be better at hiding the signs of their condition, to better fit in with others or to avoid being bullied or abused.
How To Spot Signs Of Autism In Teenagers
This article was co-authored by George Sachs, PsyD. George Sachs is a Licensed Psychologist and the Owner of Sachs Center based in New York, New York. With over ten years of experience, Dr. Sachs specializes in treating ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders in children, teens, and adults. He holds a BS in Psychology from Emory University. Dr. Sachs earned his Doctorate of Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Chicago. He completed his clinical training in Chicago at Cook County Hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital, and the Child Study Center. Dr. Sachs completed his internship and postdoctoral work at the Childrens Institute in Los Angeles, where he supervised and trained therapists in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy . He has been trained as a Gestalt Therapist and certified by the Gestalt Associates Training Program of Los Angeles. Dr. Sachs is the author of The Adult ADD Solution, Helping the Traumatized Child, and Helping Your Husband with Adult ADD. He has appeared on the Huffington Post, NBC Nightly News, CBS, and WPIX discussing his holistic approach to ADD/ADHD treatment.There are 32 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 91,087 times.
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Signs Of Autism In Adults
Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong condition and some people with autism spectrum disorder are not diagnosed until they are adults. This could be because they fall into the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum and their symptoms are less severe, or because they were misdiagnosed with a condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Although treatment can improve some outward symptoms, people with autism will always process sensations such as sound, sight, touch and smell in different ways.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that adults will have different experiences of day-to-day living. An adult with mild symptoms, who is towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:
- Have difficulties with social interactions
- Avoid making eye contact
- Not understand nonverbal facial or body gestures, such as frowning or shrugging
- Not understand changes in tone of voice, such as sarcasm
- Be comforted by rules and routine
- Get upset at changes to routines
- Be under- or over-sensitive to loud noises, strong smells or tastes
- Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as pacing or hand flapping
- Have a narrow range of interests
- Have a good memory and recall of facts
An adult who is towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:
One common sign of autism spectrum disorder in adults is anxiety. Signs of anxiety can include: