The Value Of Both Hard Skills And Soft Skills
For people with autism, hard and soft skills are learned behaviors that can take time and effort to achieve. For individuals without autism these are much easier to learn.
Thats why its important for care teams and parents to not only teach your teen how to follow a set of procedures, but also incorporate life and social skills ahead of time so your teen will be prepared to put them into practice in their new school or workplace.
Vocational training teaches a variety of hard skills needed to perform job-specific responsibilities for example, activity-based tasks like how to file records, make pizza boxes, organize inventory or prepare food. They can also learn transactional skills like how to log data, work with money, read a calendar or similar work-related tasks.
In addition to those hard skills its every bit as important for teens with autism to learn the right soft skills, too.
Scenarios at a typical job may be much more of a learned effort for teens with autism. So, the soft skill focus early on might be to teach the teen how to request a vacation day, practice safety skills, when to ask for a break, seek assistance from a supervisor or how to resolve a conflict with a coworker.
Learn How The Child Learns Best
Many kids with autism are visual thinkers and learners and using pictures and other visual aids during teaching is helpful. Visual aids are especially effective when teaching number concepts, directional terms, and word recognition to kids who learn this way. However, not all children on the autism spectrum are visual learners, so it’s essential you determine the best learning style before you begin teaching in a certain way. Take some time to observe the child and experiment with different methods of sharing information.
Know Anxiety Might Not Look Like Anxiety
About 41 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders also have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. There are also many who have not yet been diagnosed because the symptoms of anxiety are not consistent or recognizable in all situations. Be aware an anxious child may act out or become more rigid or withdrawn. The child may also act anxious at home but not at school. Take some time to talk to parents and caregivers about anxiety and be aware this may affect child’s learning and behavior. If you suspect it may be an issue, refer the child or parents to a school psychologist or the pediatrician.
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Tips On How To Help Teens With Autism Find A Job
As your child grows into teenagehood, it is quite normal to worry about their future and career. However, with the many opportunities available for children with autism, there is really no cause for worrying. Todays parent would rather have their child get used to normal study and work rather than shelter them. So yes, it is possible to explore various opportunities and find the right fit for your child.
Having your teen engage actively in the job environment will not only eliminate the increased stress brought about by increasingly complex social expectations, but will also help you and your teen turn a specific discovered interest into a long-term career goal!
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A teenage on the autism spectrum, just like every other teen, has strengths and weaknesses which serve as pointers to a career line that they can settle and excel in.
Aim For 80 Percent Success On Goals
It may be tempting to set an important goal that a child will need to work very hard to achieve, such as using the restroom at school every day or asking questions in conversation 100 percent of the time. However, children with ASD have “off” days or times that are more challenging, and there may be situations where they will not succeed at the goal if success means 100 percent. It’s essential you redefine success as 80 percent. This is encouraging for both you and the child as it’s achievable on most developmentally appropriate goals.
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Use Your Own Methods And Go At Your Own Pace
Ive known for a while that I work differently to others. And thats fine- I tend to succeed anyway if I try hard enough. Unless Im following other peoples methods, or going at someone elses pace.
For example: I played in a football match when I was eight , and I was in goal. This meant I was the only one in the team allowed to use my hands, and I was expected to use them.
Except, I didnt. I kept the ball away with my feet, time and time again, and learned I was pretty good at it. I ignored the people at the edge of the pitch telling me I had to use my hands becausethats what goalkeepers are supposed to do, and kept on defending with my feet.
0-0 with five minutes to go. I was doing my job perfectly. And then I was taken to one side by an adult, and ordered to use my hands, becausethats what goalkeepers are supposed to do.
I used my hands. Five minutes later, we lost 4-0.
If you need to do things differently to others, then do it. Where possible, surround yourself with people who understand why you need to do things differently.
If you need to go faster than other people, do it.
If you need to go slower than other people, do it.
And it is definitely not your fault if you try doing it someone elses way and it doesnt work. Because lets face it, they wouldnt succeed doing it your way.
Encouraging Speech And Language Development:
- Encourage speech by keeping the language simple.
- Ask the child to say the target word before doing the action. For example, if you want the child to say ball you would ask the child to say the word each time you throw the ball to them.
- Focus on one concept or word. For example, if you are working on colors, present a variety of activities involving colors and repeatedly request color words.
- Remember to offer praise whenever a child gives you the gift of responding to your request.
- Combine sensory with sounds. You can draw the letter A in shaving cream while you model making the a sound.
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The Challenges Of Independence
Aspergers does not mean no challenges, confirms Lynne Soraya, who writes the Aspergers Diary for Psychology Today. I was hit by a carfor the second timewhen I was in college, at age 19. Life skills like learning how to effectively manage sensory inputs so that you can safely cross a street are still applicable for those of us deemed high functioning.’
The day of the accident, Soraya says, she had gotten in an argument and was so overwhelmed by her emotions, along with the noise and crowds, that she experienced tunnel vision and didnt see the car coming until it was too late.
Add to the challenges of independence the withdrawal of the educational supports and services some of these kids have been receiving since they were as young as 2 years old those supports vanish when they age out of childrens services. They do not grow out of their autism, and they may very likely have other, accompanying problems, including anxiety and ADHD, that may make things that much harder.
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Autism In Teens: Puberty Expectations Symptoms And Treatments
Autism Parenting Magazine tries to deliver honest, unbiased reviews, resources, and advice, but please note that due to the variety of capabilities of people on the spectrum, information cannot be guaranteed by the magazine or its writers. Medical content, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained within is never intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read within.
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Counseling For Autistic Teens
Are You Struggling To Understand And Support Your Autistic Teenager?
Are you clear where your child falls on the autism spectrum or are you still getting conflicting diagnoses, especially if your teen in on the higher functioning end of the spectrum? Even if your teen is high functioning, are there academic or social problems that seem to be getting worse now that your child is older and expected to accomplish more in bigger and broader school and social environments? Does your teen experience problems with transitions or become easily fixated on an activity, concept or idea, making adhering to a schedule consistently problematic? Are you experiencing resistance from your teen either by your attempts to help or due to his or her rigid way of thinking? Has the school environment been a big challenge especially if your teen is in the public school system? Do you feel very protective of your child and want to shield him or her from the social upsets and challenges that are part of the normal teenage experience, but may be more pronounced for your teen? Are you concerned about your teenager in the long-term, wondering if he or she will be able to live a normal life with a job and relationships?
The Autism Spectrum Community and Available Resources Are Growing
Therapy Can Be Very Effective
But, you still may have questions or concerns
I think that my teenager could really benefit from therapy and other outside resources, but Im concerned about costs.
New Symptoms That May Appear During Adolescence
Autistic children can often find adolescence very difficult. Although they have the same hormones as all other teenagers, they dont naturally develop complex relationships and arent able to interpret or engage in the more types of relationships which develop as children get older. They can be prone to isolation and low moods, which can appear very intense and be difficult to read.
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What Are The Common Signs Of Autism In Teenagers
The outward signs of ASD arent the same from person to person.
But the signs of autism in teens arent all that different from those in children or adults.
Heres a brief summary of the diagnostic criteria for autism according to the DSM-5:
- having difficulty with social interactions and communication, such as having conversations or misunderstanding gestures
- having intensely focused or restricted patterns of behavior, such as repetitive motor functions like hand-flapping, or a strict adherence to a daily routine to the extent of feeling distressed if these patterns are disrupted
- outward signs of autism are identifiable early in development, even if theyre not easy to spot, as they may become more apparent when the child gets older
- autism signs result in noticeable challenges adjusting to functions expected in social or workplace norms
- autism signs arent more clearly part of a different intellectual disability or developmental disorder diagnosis
These signs are also diagnosed according to their severity.
Some people diagnosed with autism may show only mild forms of these signs. But others may experience severe forms that disrupt their ability to adjust to neurotypical social and communication norms.
This is why many people think its critical to get a diagnosis and get treated as early as possible.
Build A Support System
Its essential to have a support system when venturing out in search of work, particularly for autistic individuals who may have faced alienation, repeated bullying, or rejection in the past. Support can be found in:
- Mental health counselors
- Vocational counselors
- Online autism groups members
Make a list and highlight the people you feel most comfortable contacting. Prepare what you will say and how you will reach out for help. Have a trusted adult review your list and correspondence ideas. Part of gaining independence and a greater sense of well-being is learning how to ask for help.
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How To Share With Others
Sharing is typically a part of friendship. Help your teen understand that it is okay to be able to share things with our friends. When they come over to play games, it is okay to share our video games with them so we can enjoy something together. Talk about how to share and what are appropriate things to share with our friends. Learn how to take turns through talking situations. Practice this through games or every day situations with either going first or last.
How Would It Feel To Be : : : :
Next time you read a book to your class, try asking your students how it would feel to be the main character in the story. If youre reading a picture book about Cinderella, for example, you could ask how they would feel if they had two evil stepsisters who were mean to them. Or if youre reading Peter Pan as a class, you could ask them what happy memories they would think about to fly with magic pixie dust.
This can help students with autism learn empathy as well as how to see situations in their lives from another perspective. It can also teach them how to recognize emotional cues by encouraging them to put themselves in the perspective of another person.
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Secondary School/high School Means Less Than You Think
Sounds difficult to believe, but trust me.
Back when I was at secondary school, it was the biggest part of my world. I was there five days a week, with people I liked and people I hated. Bullies dont need much ammunition, and I gave them loads. And when youre at school, each year can feel like a long time.
Then I left secondary school.
I never met the bullies ever again.
And I never worried about how bad I was at subjects I didnt care about.
And, best of all, nobody in the real world cared whether I was cool in Year 11.
Im serious! Those cool kids? Those popular guys who seem to love hurting people? I almost feel sorry for them. They had no idea that once they left school, that coolness would mean absolutely nothing.
I left school and eventually found my dream job. They left school and well, I actually dont know what they did. Truly dont care, to be honest. They might as well no longer exist.
I know that if you dont get on well with school, it can feel horrible.
But it does not last forever. And once its gone, its gone for good.
Edit- two months after uploading this, I wrote an article specifically devoted to bullying issues. If you need advice in this area, you can find the article here: 8 Tips for Coping with Bullying .
Use Special Interests As A Reward
Many kids with autism have special interests or areas of intense focus. These can be very specific, and they may change from time to time as the child matures. Often, these offer a great avenue for interacting, but they can also present a reward system. Set up a chart to allow the child to earn a trinket or experience related to his or her special interest. You can use photos or graphics to help the chart be more motivating.
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Advice For Teachers From A Teen On The Autism Spectrum
To all of the wonderful educators that have taught me: thank you for making my school life better! I have been so lucky to have such wonderful teachers in my life through elementary, middle, and the beginning of high school.
Quick background story: For the privacy of the people involved, I am not going to mention any names. About a year ago, I had a coach. This coach was very respected, honest, caring, and kind I was pushed me to the best of my abilities plus a little bit more. One day about halfway through class, I was working very hard, but the pace of things was starting to go too fast. I was getting confused and overwhelmed and started having trouble telling my left from my right. The coach, in front of a few students, got frustrated and said What are you, autistic?
My heart broke. I didnt know what to do. I was embarrassed. Nevertheless, I said, yes.
The coachs jaw dropped and the coach was speechless, realizing what happened. I came home crying. The coach felt so badly afterwards and apologized over and over again to me and my parents, and even came to my house to meet with me personally to talk about this further.
The purpose of this story: Even the best teachers make mistakes!
Things That Helped Me:
Things That Dont Help Me:
Try Movement During Learning
Although many children with and without autism are capable of learning while in a classroom environment, some kids on the spectrum make better progress while moving. According the Temple Grandin, noted autism expert, many kids display better interaction and verbal skills when they are on a swing. Also try a trampoline, a rocking balance board, and other motor options.
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Activities Teaching Strategies And Resources For Teaching Children With Autism
Because approximately 1 in 59 students are diagnosed with autism, learning how to help students with this disorder in the classroom is so important. Teaching young students with autism communication skills and learning strategies makes it all the more likely that theyll reach their academic potential later on. And the more you learn about autism spectrum disorder, the better youll be able to prepare these students for lifelong success.
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that causes hypersensitivity to sights, sounds, and other sensory information. Symptoms of autism generally fall into three categories:
- Communication issues
- Social impairment
- Repetitive behaviors
Here are 15 fun activities to help children with autism feel welcome in your class while addressing their symptoms and individual learning styles. Whether you play them one-on-one or as group activities, these are excellent ways to keep students with autism engaged and ready to learn.