Raising Teenagers with Autism

If your child received an early diagnosis of autism, you may have already spent a great deal of time doing research, talking to therapists, and figuring out what’s best for them. However, once that child becomes a teenager, a whole new era begins.

The confidence you once had in raising a child with autism might waver as you start to grapple with your teen’s new needs, but you can adapt and be a great parent to a teenager with autism: here’s how.

The Same, but Different

Creating structure, direct communication, and focusing on their interests are things you’re likely already doing. Here’s how to adjust them for the teen years.

Autism spectrum disorder

Structure for Everything

When raising a teenager with autism, preparation for transitions, calming activities, and downtime are all still important, but can be simplified. As your child gets older, it’s important to establish routines for things they didn’t have to deal with as children. For example, they may need help with daily hygiene, such as showering before school or putting on deodorant. Bedtime is also important to ensure proper rest: teenagers can require more sleep than infants!

What to expect autism

Simple Communication

By now, you’ve realized your child absorbs information best in a certain way. Make sure to continue to use that communication to help simplify the many new things they have to process every day.

Keep information on a need-to-know basis, only relaying one message at a time. Impersonal written communication may work best: lists, charts, calendars, or even email. Ask what your teenager’s preferred form of communication is, and if it doesn’t work, re-evaluate together.

Most importantly, remember to be patient. Your child might have grown, but they will still get frustrated and need a chance to cool down. Establish a code word or gesture so you can know if they’re struggling.

Can Autism be cure

Let Them Explore What They’re Interested In

Your teenager may have outgrown some interests, but it’s important to continue to let them focus on things they enjoy. Whatever their current hyper-fixation is, it can be an important motivator and is relaxing and reassuring for them.

Even if you don’t understand it, try to learn whatever you can about their interests. Ask your teenager to tell you about it—they will eagerly scoop up the opportunity!

Different Considerations Moving Forward

Austism treatment

Realistic Goal Setting

Teenagers are expected to start thinking about college or careers. With the help of their therapists, teachers, and other supports, you can set realistic goals for them. Realize that while you and your teen may be imagining certain career goals or plans, they may require an unconventional path.

For example, your teenager may not be ready for college right away, but a hands-on job training program in a field they’re interested in could be a better option. Or maybe your teenager would like to live on their own, and you can discuss what living situation would be best for them.

Break goals down into smaller, achievable steps. This helps build confidence in your teenager as they see their own successes and aim for even more.

Autism treatment cost

Expand Their Support Network

Continuing with your teenager’s support network is important for consistency, but expanding this network is necessary as your teenager grows up. There are specific job programs for teenagers with special needs or even specifically ASD, often with local businesses. If your teenager isn’t ready to start working, an extracurricular activity might be beneficial. Find out if there’s a Special Olympics team at your teenager’s school or in the area. They’ll make more friends and have more support as they bond with other participants.

Teenagers with or without ASD become less willing to listen to parents, so it’s important that they have other trusted adults in their lives other than a parent. Coaches, guidance counselors, group leaders, and other relatives can all help fill in this gap. Boys may need to spend increased amounts of time with their fathers and/or other male role models. Whatever the case, having more support is always a good thing!

Autism School

Take Steps Toward Independence

It might be a little scary to think of your now-teenager doing things for themselves, but this is an important opportunity to teach them how to make certain decisions on their own.

Give your teenager choices when possible, but be aware that they may become overwhelmed more easily. For example, if you’re going out to dinner and would like them to pick a restaurant, ask, “Would you like burgers or pizza?” Expand the number of choices as you see fit but backtrack if too many options start becoming challenging.

Teenagers should also learn when to ask for help, who they can ask, and how. Talk to your teenager’s support team and set up a method for coaching your teenager through problem-solving.

Other steps toward independence include teaching your teenager how to do laundry and other chores using small, simple tasks. You can help them build a valuable skillset step-by-step.

Different Considerations Moving Forward

Austism treatment

Realistic Goal Setting

Teenagers are expected to start thinking about college or careers. With the help of their therapists, teachers, and other supports, you can set realistic goals for them. Realize that while you and your teen may be imagining certain career goals or plans, they may require an unconventional path.

For example, your teenager may not be ready for college right away, but a hands-on job training program in a field they’re interested in could be a better option. Or maybe your teenager would like to live on their own, and you can discuss what living situation would be best for them.

Break goals down into smaller, achievable steps. This helps build confidence in your teenager as they see their own successes and aim for even more.

Autism treatment cost

Expand Their Support Network

Continuing with your teenager’s support network is important for consistency, but expanding this network is necessary as your teenager grows up. There are specific job programs for teenagers with special needs or even specifically ASD, often with local businesses. If your teenager isn’t ready to start working, an extracurricular activity might be beneficial. Find out if there’s a Special Olympics team at your teenager’s school or in the area. They’ll make more friends and have more support as they bond with other participants.

Teenagers with or without ASD become less willing to listen to parents, so it’s important that they have other trusted adults in their lives other than a parent. Coaches, guidance counselors, group leaders, and other relatives can all help fill in this gap. Boys may need to spend increased amounts of time with their fathers and/or other male role models. Whatever the case, having more support is always a good thing!

Autism School

Take Steps Toward Independence

It might be a little scary to think of your now-teenager doing things for themselves, but this is an important opportunity to teach them how to make certain decisions on their own.

Give your teenager choices when possible, but be aware that they may become overwhelmed more easily. For example, if you’re going out to dinner and would like them to pick a restaurant, ask, “Would you like burgers or pizza?” Expand the number of choices as you see fit but backtrack if too many options start becoming challenging.

Teenagers should also learn when to ask for help, who they can ask, and how. Talk to your teenager’s support team and set up a method for coaching your teenager through problem-solving.

Other steps toward independence include teaching your teenager how to do laundry and other chores using small, simple tasks. You can help them build a valuable skillset step-by-step.

Brother and Sister in red shirts

Teenagers Benefit from ABA Therapy

A lot changes once your child becomes a teenager—and raising a teenager with autism can be more challenging than raising a neurotypical child. If you’re still working on establishing good habits with your teenager, our individual ABA therapy can help with that, while getting rid of challenging behaviors to set your teen up for future success.

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