Expose Autistic Teens To New Environments
Another big difference between youth with autism and their peers is their ability to adapt to new situations and environments. They have a harder time with change and living an independent, adult life can be all about change and adapting to new environments. Parents can help them when it comes to this by putting them in new situations. As they go through high school, look into community classes they can take on the side. Have them try an instrument. By introducing them to new activities slowly and making sure that they are activities that they have expressed interest in can help them learn to adjust to a new situation.
The bottom line is that children and youth with autism are capable of living an independent life, they just need a few extra steps to get there. Using visual cues can be an important tool when helping those with autism, according to Autism Awareness Center. Mom can use cue cards to explain the steps needed to complete a task, or just to list out what needs to be done throughout the day. Breaking down a day into smaller sections can help a teen with autism navigate their day, and the steps can increase in difficulty as they age into adulthood.
Tantrums Meltdowns And Takeaways
Both tantrums and meltdowns are manifestations of difficulty with emotional regulation skills and if they persist beyond the stages of typical development, can be associated with other diagnoses like ADHD, autism, sensory processing dysfunction, learning disabilities, depression, and anxiety.
While tantrums are behavioral in nature, meltdowns have a sensory, physiological basis that warrants different management strategies. While neither are fun outbursts to experience, focus part of your energy on proactively supporting your childs emotional regulation.
In the moments of tantrum or meltdown, use the guidelines weve outlined above to find what works for your child, and please share with Harkla what management strategies work for you!
Autistic Meltdown or Temper Tantrum? by Judy Endow, MSW. Ollibean. N.p., 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 May 2017.
26 Sensory Integration Tools for Meltdown Management Friendship Circle Special Needs Blog. Friendship Circle Special Needs Blog. N.p., 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 May 2017.
Bennett, David D. Decreasing Tantrum/meltdown Behaviors of School Children with High Functioning Autism through Parent Training. Social Science. N.p., 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 May 2017.
Meltdowns may result in you screaming, crying, throwing things, shaking, and/or yelling hurtful comments. They can be scary and damaging to people around you and, when youve had a meltdown, chances are you feel pretty bad about it.
Tips To Help Your Teen On The Autism Spectrum
Posted January 29, 2011
Last week I wrote about the things parents need to know about teens in general when you are raising an adolescent on the autism spectrum. As a parent you will need lots of practical tips to help you and your teen on the spectrum not only survive the adolescent years, but to grow in a positive way. Here are but a few – I will publish some more soon:
Allow the teen to be non-compliant in appropriate ways. Non-compliance in a teen on the spectrum is harder to handle than with neurotypical teens, but it starts by giving them more choices over their day. Whether or not they have autism, there’s a definite shift’ in behavior and personality when children turn into teenagers. Wanting your attention changes to wanting their independence. For kids on the spectrum, this behavior change may look like non-compliance they don’t follow through on your requests as before. But it’s actually a normal part of their development, entirely aside from their autism. As a parent it’s important to support your teen as he struggles to become his own person, and even though it may be hard to appreciate, this is a positive development. After years of being taught to do as he is told, your teen needs to start learning that it is acceptable at times to say No,’ or he might find himself in dangerous situations with peers or others looking for an easy victim to prey upon.
Also Check: Autism Visual Schedule
Team Activities For Autistic Adolescent
Interaction is the key to developing social skills. If you want to help your autistic teen with his or her social life, you should encourage them to participate in team activities and events as much as possible. That said, you should not push them into something they are not comfortable with. Ease them into society one step at a time.
Helping Your Children Form A Relationship
Because of the nature of autism, it is usually difficult for a young child to form a satisfying relationship with a brother or sister who has the disorder. For example, your childs attempts to play with his/her brother are probably rebuffed by his ignoring her, fall flat because of his lack of play skills, or end abruptly because his tantrums are frightening. How many of us would keep trying to form a friendship with someone who turned her back when we spoke to her or, even worse, seemed angry when we approached? It is not surprising that young children may become discouraged by the reactions they encounter and seek playmates elsewhere.
The good news is that young children can be taught simple skills that will enable them to engage their brother or sister in playful interactions. Research has shown that siblings can learn basic teaching strategies to engage their brother or sister with autism. These skills include things like making sure they have their brothers attention, giving simple instructions, and praising good play. One research study showed that videotapes made before and after the children learned these skills showed in a very touching manner that, after training, they played together more and seemed much happier than they had been prior to training.
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Autism Causes The Brain To Process Things Differently
Children on the Autism Spectrum process differently things others often take for granted. Crowds, loud noises, and bright or blinking lights, among countless other things, can often lead to extreme anxiety or a total meltdown on the part of the child. As one parent of an autistic child stated, If you are in a supermarket and your child is getting overwhelmed and maybe making a scene, it makes it ten times worse when people around you are giving you dirty looks or making comments.
Dont Be Afraid To Let Them Make Mistakes
As a parent, it can be difficult to watch your child become independent and face the worlds challenges alone. It can be harder if your child is autistic because you know that theyre guaranteed to struggle. However, its important that parents cast aside guilt and fear and let their autistic teenager face some challenges on their own.
All teenagers need to learn to be independent. And sometimes, the only way is to let them learn to cope without your support. So, now and then, ask your teenager to take the train on their own. Buy a product in a shop without you there. Or prepare a sandwich by themselves. It may be hard at first and stressful for your autistic teen but practice makes perfect.
Recommended Reading: How To Make A Visual Schedule For Autism
Dont Assume Nonverbal Children Cant Communicate
Many children with autism don’t speak at all. But never assume that they don’t have something to say.
For children with autism, behavior is a form of communication. That includes:
- Walking away
Listen to what the child is trying to say. Ignore it, and the behavior may escalate until the child gets the point across.
Im Not An Autism Expert
If you want to learn more about autism and what its like to be autistic, there is one reliable source: a person on the Autism Spectrum. Parents of autistic children can tell you what it is like to live with a person on the Spectrum. They are experts on their own child. But the only person who can tell you what its like to live with autism is an autistic person himself.
Read Also: Does Jerry Seinfeld Have Autism
Practice Ahead Of Time
For an autistic teenager, social situations can be hard work and are likely to generate feelings of stress or anxiety. To help your teenager manage these negative emotions and enhance their confidence, try practising social situations with them at home first and set up their very own drama school.
For example, arrange an area of your kitchen like a coffee shop and practice ordering a drink, pretend youre having lunch with a friend and discuss the different topics you could talk about or create a bus stop and practise getting on the bus and greeting the driver. Rehearsing everyday situations like these will help your autistic teen to feel more confident and comfortable and will make social situations feel much more predictable and manageable.
Build Your Childs Interest
You must learn how to discover your childs passion irrespective of their disability. Autism hinders a childs cognitive ability and academic performance, however, it doesnt terminate their interest in other activities. You also need to step beyond discovering their passion by giving them your support and encouragement. Developing their interest strengthens them to communicate and socialize faster.
Dont be quick to conclude they arent good at anythingkeep trying. I have met with an autistic child who is an awesome artist. Therefore give your child a chance!
Also Check: Jerry Seinfeld Autistic
Dont Stop Trying To Include Us
Autistic children, their siblings, and their parents are simply people, and people like to feel as if they are a part of a community. Though spending the day with a child on the Autism Spectrum may come with a few additional challenges, continue to spend time with them. Ask families to come to the Sunday BBQ, ask questions to better understand, and invite the parents out for dinner and an evening away. If they say no, ask again next time.
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
Read Also: Freddie Highmore Really Autistic
Also Check: Will My Son Ever Talk
When It Comes To Autism One Size Doesnt Fit All
If you put a PlayStation game into an Xbox, would it work? Of course not. So does that mean the Xbox is broken? No. The same thing applies for a child with autism. Just because they dont learn the way typical children do doesnt mean there is something wrong with them. It means that we as parents, caregivers, friends, neighbors and teachers need to find different ways to try and make a connection.
Laura Jones, Lambertville, New Jersey
The Balancing Act Of Rival Sibling Schedules
When Amal was younger, she was worked into Lil’ D’s schedule, engaging him in special sibling therapy and organized playtime to teach him to pay attention to her. Now, in addition to schoolwork, Amal has after-school activities , playdates, and language lessons with her grandmother. Meanwhile, Lil’ D sees therapists who visit him on four weekdays for two hours each day. Hamza, the youngest, is living the easy life for now. We are still bound by Lil’ D’s schedule and his limited tolerance for multiple activities. Almost everything we want to do for our kids or anywhere we want to go has to pass this test first: How will Lil’ D manage? Is it worth it? As the kids grow older, though, it is becoming more complicated to handle natural sibling rivalry and attend to individual needs. How will I manage Amal’s schedule with Lil’ D’s? Hamza’s needs haven’t even been factored into the mix yet.
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Empower Your Teenager With Social And Coping Skills
A lot of the stress of being a teenager with autism may be related to social and coping skill deficits. Dealing with disappointment and navigating the real social world requires some skills that many of us find difficult. Dealing with difficult situations that may have disappointed us and figuring out what to do in different social situations can be quite complex. One of the ways that I help the teenagers with autism that I work with is with a program that I refer to as the things I can say and do. It involves working with specific scenarios that may come up in our day-to-day interactions and the things we can say and do in those contexts. For example, what do we do if someone is using our computer that we wanted to use and have been using consistently? Or, what do we do if something does not go our way . The key is to come up with strategies that he/she can do in those moments and compile a list. Once we have an appropriate list, then we can practice choosing one of those strategies. For example, one of the teenagers that I work with has compiled a list of things he can say or do when his Internet connection does not work. In the past he would have put a hole in the wall however, now he will stop what he is doing and think of strategies that are available to him.
Everyday And Social Skills For Unfamiliar And Difficult Situations
Sometimes autistic children and teenagers might seem like theyre behaving inappropriately. But actually they dont have the skills to handle unfamiliar or difficult situations.
For example, your child doesnt say hello to someone. Your child isnt being rude on purpose they might not know they should say hello. Your child might start hitting something because a particular noise is upsetting them. Or your child might smear poo on the wall because they like the warmth and texture of it, not because they want to upset you or do the wrong thing.
Breaking tasks into steps can help autistic children and teenagers learn everyday skills like how to get dressed or how to use deodorant.
Read Also: Autistic Life Expectancy
How Can You Support Your Teenager With Autism Spectrum Disorder If They Are Depressed
- Robyn Thom, MD, Contributor
As every parent knows, teenage life is full of challenges, from stress over academics to social relationships and physical changes due to puberty. This stage of life can be particularly challenging for those with autism spectrum disorder . A recent study found that teenagers and young adults with ASD are nearly three times more likely to develop depression than same-age peers without ASD.
Clear Rules About Behaviour
Rules are positive statements that let children know how theyre expected to behave and what your family limits are.
The rule might be that your child cant play in the morning until theyre ready for school for example, First get ready, then have playtime. You could use a visual support like a timer to show your child how long there is until you need to leave for school. When your child has finished getting ready, they can play for the time left on the timer. If the timer has finished, theres no time to play.
Recommended Reading: Aspergers And Stuttering
How To Make A Calm Down Kit For Kids With Autism
Wondering how to make a Calm Down Kit for Kids with Autism? Looking for Calm Down Box ideas? Ive got you covered! I use Calm Down Boxes in my coaching programs all the time. They will be a valuable calming, sensory tool for your child or students. Calm Down Kits are easy to make and so helpful in regulating emotions and helping kids with autism calm down and focus. Make a sensory bin next!
Also Check: Can You Hypnotize An Autistic Person
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.
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Respect Her For Who She Is
No one expects one person to change . What you can do is change your world. You can give your child the tools to be a strong self-advocate. You can give your child an example of a true ally by changing the conversation about autism and disability in your own lives and homes. How do you do that? Presume competence. Presume that your child is aware and wants to understand. Respect your child. Do not do to your autistic child what you would not do to a typically developing child. Your autistic child is not in need of fixing. They are in need of acceptance and understanding. Redefine normal. Recognize that normal is subjective. Stimming, flapping, perseverance, and accommodating sensory preferences are not reasons to apologize. Calm down. Your autistic child at three is not your autistic child at nine. Or 15, or 30. Do not write the story of your childs life before they even enter kindergarten. Seek out the autistic community. If you want to learn about autism and what it is like to live an autistic life, no one else will be able to help you understand like we can. Lastly, understand what acceptance really means. It does not mean no supports or accommodations. It does not mean no help or therapies. Acceptance means that you accept your childs autistic neurology as valid. Lei Wiley-Mydske