Autism at any age can be challenging. When you are a teenager or parent of a teenager it is very challenging because hormones are involved, the desire to fit in is involved and so much more. There is hope for helping your teenager with autism thrive in her surroundings. With an open mind and heart please consider this seven tips for helping your teenager with autism thrive in everyday settings.
7 Tips For Helping Your Teenager With Autism Thrive
- Always have non verbal ways for your teenager to communicate with directly with you and others (family and friends) no matter what. This provides another added layer of comfort to them as well as you. This is needed for every teenager but especially your teenager. This form of nonverbal communication should grow over time and it is up to you to make sure it grows. Teach them more of the unique communication gradually and ensure you both understand it. Both children have smartphones that they use to text me when they need help or have a question they don’t know how to ask. It’s a great way to keep the lines of communication open.
- Be consistent especially from setting to setting. Even teenagers with autism need consistency. Keep everything you can as consistent as possible especially their schedules. This allows them to function at their highest and best. Also, be constant in your expectations and rewards to them as well. Make sure they know what those are in advance. No one likes surprises ,especially in autism.
- Continue to reward good behavior when you see them doing it on their own. Remember everyone likes to be rewarded for the good that they do. Reward your teenager and celebrate their goodness. This positive reinforcement goes a long way. You do not have to be fancy with rewards. Keep it simple and consistent especially when they learn a new skill or complete a chore consistently.
- Give them their own “safety zone” within the home. This is extremely important. It can be their bedroom and/or a special space in the family room however make sure it is theirs alone and special to them. Think a private escape or added comfort zone to take a break when needed. Now would also be a great time to redo their bedroom to reflect a new stage in their life. To this day, we host holiday celebrations in our home so Logan has somewhere to retreat when he’s done peopling. If you must go somewhere else, make sure there is a safe zone that your child knows about.
- Read Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence, written by Luke Jackson. This book is great reading and helps you both get it right. Although I do not like the title this book can and will become your guide through the teenage years. Loaded with humor you must read it to help your teenager thrive without recreating the wheel.
- Look into a social skills group for especially for teenagers with autism. This can be priceless to them interacting with their peers. It may be as simple as having them join a group with a common interest. The key to this one is that it must be an in person event. Don’t be fooled into thinking they are working on social skills while online.
- Update their life plan to include hygiene and the new demands of high school. This is a must and should actually be updated for elementary school, middle school and high school. This allows you to stay ahead of the curve of physical body changes as well as expectations inside and outside of the home. It also reminds you to teach about things like shaving or menstruation before it becomes a necessity.
Parenting has never been easy.The fact that you’re reading this article tells me that you are on top of things and ready to help your teenager with autism thrive. I truly admire that in you. Enjoy the teenage years . They will be adults before you know it.