S To Take If You Believe A Teenager Has Autism
If you think your teenager has autism, is it important for you to carry out research. Sites such as Child Autism UK can help you better understand the condition and the steps to take next.
You should also contact their special educational needs coordinator to discuss the symptoms. It is also important to speak to your GP who can provide medical advice and referrals where necessary.
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.
High Functioning Asd In Adults
Aspergers syndrome is a lifelong diagnosis. However, many individuals with Aspergers develop into successful, high-functioning adults. Adults have a much better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses that come with their Aspergers syndrome diagnosis. Adults with Aspergers syndrome learn social skills and learn to identify social cues, and many adults with Aspergers syndrome get married and have a family. Also, attention to detail and focused interests can increase the chances of collegiate and professional success for adults with Aspergers syndrome. Many adults with Aspergers syndrome find success in technology and engineering roles.
Autism In Teenage Girls
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that autistic symptoms in girls could go unnoticed.
Girls who have normal intelligence levels can mask their symptoms. Because they are of average or above-average IQ, girls with autism can appear neurotypical even though they have poor verbal and non-verbal skills.
Another contributing factor is culture. A girl who is quiet and non-responsive can be considered feminine and well-behaved, while a boy who is quiet can be seen as unusual or different.
What’s It Like To Have Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASD affects different people in different ways. Some people can’t speak or learn. Their behavior may seem strange they may avoid other people they may pace and move their bodies in unusual ways, like flapping their hands. They may repeat lines from TV shows or movies.
People with less severe ASD are able to talk and learn. But they may have trouble:
- expressing feelings. They may seem cold and distant.
- understanding the feelings of others. They may ignore or misunderstand how other people might feel or behave in a situation.
- reading social cues. They might not understand body language or facial expression they stand too close they ignore signs of boredom or frustration.
- handling sensory information. Loud noises, bright lights, or crowds may bother them.
- handling a new routine. It might be hard for them to sit in a different seat or having a substitute teacher.
Some might get get super-focused on a single topic or hobby, some of which may be unusual .
Read Also: Is It Possible To Outgrow Autism
How Teen Autism Is Treated
Therapists are adept at helping their patients to process strong emotions. Teens who feel upset or worried about an autism diagnosis may enjoy talking through those feelings with a professional. They may emerge from these sessions feeling more confident and capable.
Treatment does more than help people feel comfortable with a diagnosis. For example, researchers report that people diagnosed with autism often struggle with:
- Peer relationships.
- Conversation skills.
- Unusual speech.
Any or all of these features could be a target for a therapeutic intervention. Applied behavior analysis therapy is made to help people with autism both identify and amend a specific behavior.
A teen who talks in a high, strangled voice might aim to talk at a reasonable pitch. A therapist could identify that pitch and hold many practice sessions to help the teen master that skill. With that addressed, the two could move on to making friends or handling the give and take of conversation.
These sessions aren’t punitive. They’re made to give teens with autism tangible, real-world skills they can put to use in their everyday lives. The sessions will certainly be helpful, and your teen may even find them fun.
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.
You May Like: What Is The Symbol For Autism
How To Help Any Autistic Behaviour That Occurs As A Child Becomes A Teenager:
- Take a calm, quiet approach when talking to the young person
- Give them their own space, while ensuring that they dont retreat from family life altogether
- Limit online activities to encourage face-to-face time with people
- Plan activities for weekends and holidays in advance and share those plans with the young person
- Keep to a routine
- When talking to your son or daughter, do so while engaging in a chosen activity, such as walking through the park or driving in the car with them as a front-seat passenger, rather than sitting looking at them
- Use lots of subtle and genuine praise, as children with autism generally have low self-esteem and need more genuine praise then neuro-typical children. But remember that many autistic children dislike being singled-out in front of others and praised
Health Professionals Your Child May See During The Assessment Process
- Paediatrician â a medical doctor with special training and skills in children and their diseases. A developmental paediatrician specialises in child development and behaviour.
- Child and adolescent psychiatrist â a medical doctor with special training in treating children and teenagers with mental illness.
- Psychologists â an allied health professional trained to assess and treat mental health and behavioural problems.
- Speech pathologist â an allied health professional who assesses and treats speech, language and communication disorders.
- Occupational therapist â an allied health professional trained to assess and support people with physical, sensory, or cognitive problems and help them regain their independence.
- Social worker â An allied health professional trained to assist people and families manage difficulties. This could be through a combination of counselling and practical support.
Don’t Miss: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
Early Signs Of Autism
Signs of autism in babies
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder, which means that signs become apparent as a child does not develop as expected, for example developing speech or learning to crawl later than expected.
As such, there are few signs of autism that are noticeable in newborns. However, if a baby fails to reach the developmental milestones expected at two months old, four months old, six months old, nine months old and a year old, this could be one of the first signs of autism or another developmental condition.
Good to know: Not all babies reach developmental milestones at the exact same time. It is normal to have some variation in development. If in doubt about a childÃ¢â¬â¢s development, check with a doctor.
Some of the early signs that a baby under one year old may have autism spectrum disorder include:
- Not babbling by four months old
- Not smiling by five months old
- Not laughing by six months old
- No interest in games like pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo by eight months old
- Not responding to their name by 12 months old
- Not looking at objects pointed out by other people by 12 months old
- Being upset by loud noises
- Not looking to a parent for comfort in new situations
- Being happy to play alone for long periods of time
- Not making eye contact
Signs of autism in toddlers
Some of the signs that a toddler, between one year old and two years old, may have autism spectrum disorder include:
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.
Don’t Miss: Dyslexia Autism
Dont Be Afraid To Ask For Help
And by ask for help, I dont just mean in lessons. I mean with the really serious stuff too.
Mental health is quite a focal point right now, and professionals are treating it more seriously than theyve ever done before. Especially with teenagers and young adults.
If you need guidance or counselling, ask for it. If you dont feel comfortable asking your doctor yourself, ask a parent to do it for you. Those services exist for a reason- if you need them, use them!
Random note: placed here so it can only be seen by people actually reading this. This article has been stolen from Autistic Not Weird too many times to count, so if youre reading this anywhere other than its original source, they have stolen it without my permission and are tricking readers into sharing it. Please find the original at this link. http://autisticnotweird.com/growing-up-autistic-advice-for-teenagers-with-asperger-syndrome-or-mild-autism/
Are There Any Physical Signs Of Autism
People with autism sometimes may have physical symptoms, including digestive problems such as constipation and sleep problems. Children may have poor coordination of the large muscles used for running and climbing, or the smaller muscles of the hand. About a third of people with autism also have seizures.
Read Also: The Good Doctor Autism Consultant
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.
What Does Research On Autism Tell Us
A recent study focused on this question. Researchers looked at more than 1,200 toddlers who had at least two developmental evaluations between 12 and 36 months. Less than 2% of the toddlers initially thought to have autism were subsequently thought to have normal development. And on the flip side, 24% initially thought to not have autism were then later diagnosed as having it. So while the picture is not always clear at first, once the diagnosis is made, it usually sticks.
At what age can the diagnosis be reliably made? At 12 to 13 months the diagnostic stability of the autism diagnosis meaning the degree to which it was certain and stuck was about 50%. This went up to 80% by 14 months, and 83% by 16 months. This makes sense if you think about the development of a toddler. At 12 months, they are just starting to say words, respond to commands, and interact with others. So a child who isnt reliably doing those things would be cut some slack. But by 18 months, all those skills should be solidly in place, raising alarm bells about a child who doesnt have them.
Don’t Miss: Do Nonverbal Autistic Ever Talk
Who Tells/where To Tell
Certainly circumstances vary from family to family. If your child is asking questions dont put off answering them. You should be forthcoming and not suggest talking about it later. Not providing an answer could increase the childs anxiety and make the topic and information more mysterious.
For many families, using a knowledgeable professional to begin the disclosure process instead of a family member or a friend of the family might be the best option. Having a professional involved, at least in the beginning stages of disclosure, leaves the role of support and comfort to the family and those closest to the child. For someone with an autism spectrum disorder, it can be especially hard to seek comfort from someone who gives you news that can be troubling and confusing. Having a professional whose role is clearly to discuss information about the childs diagnosis and how the disability is affecting his/herlife can make it easier for family members to be seen by the child as supportive. The professional discussing information with the child about his/her disability can also help the parents understand the childs reaction and provide suggestions for supporting their child. Having a professional involved also allows the use of a location outside of the family home for beginning this process.
Other People Find Stuff Hard Too
This is an extension to you are not alone. Finding things difficult isnt just an autism thing. It often looks like other people arent struggling with anything, but a lot of those people are acting. Many, many people are so good at wearing a brave face that its difficult to tell whats actually going through their head.
Recommended Reading: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
If You Have The Choice Between Being Normal And Being Happy Choose To Be Happy
The most depressing years of my life were my early adulthood years- just before I discovered I was autistic. Up until then, I went to so much effort trying to look normal. And I lost such a huge part of myself. There were even people in my family telling me they didnt recognise me anymore. It was horrible.
As a friend once told me , if you wear a mask for too long your face changes to fit it. If you spend too long pretending to be someone else, one day youll wake up and find that the real you has vanished- and the someone else is all thats left.
You dont want to waste time being normal. Youre already normal in your own way, and everyone else is weird.
Be yourself is common advice, and its common for a reason.
What To Do Next After Receiving An Adult Autism Diagnosis
I have written about what to do after receiving an adult diagnosis so please consult this article for guidance. There is also the decision on who should be told about the diagnosis. Ive written an in-depth blog about that.
You May Like: Are Stuttering And Autism Related
The Early Years: Worry Simmers
When Nikki was born, as anxious first-time parents, her other mom and I worried over everything: fussy eating, difficulties sleeping, learning to walk on schedule, first words, toilet training. Typical parenting issues. Nikki had a large round head, large blue eyes, and a serious expression even as a baby, drawing many admiring comments from friends and strangers alike. She could be a Gerber baby. Beautiful. You must be doing something right! Some of our worries seemed more, well, worrisome than others.
Nikki could spend hours sitting quietly by herself as a toddler, flipping through picture books, or arranging her Playmobile figures at a small table. But transitions from one activity to another, leaving the house, or being separated from her other mom or me to go to daycare often resulted in full-body meltdowns that could last an hour or more.
When she was really frustrated, she banged her head on the floor. By the age of three, she spoke less than 20 words, and shared a few of them, even as she acquired more, with anyone outside of her immediate family. She made eye contact, fleetingly, and had an unusual detachment as she quietly observed the world around her without seeming to be a part of it fully.