During the teenage years, the human body undergoes many changes and for those who don’t have a developmental disability, this can be a scary and overwhelming time. Features change, facial hair grows and hormones are raging, and all of these aspects can stimulate erratic emotions. These emotional highs and lows will be more acute in an autistic teenager and because it is difficult for parents to truly know how much of what they are saying is being comprehended – special care needs to happen when explaining the way the body changes during this time.
Simple terminology and phrasing is required for these discussions because your autistic son or daughter will become increasingly anxious and agitated if the changes are taking place and they aren’t being explained in a way that can be understood. It may be helpful for parents to use other tools such as books that have pictures for these conversations as many autistic individuals respond well to images when they can’t understand explanations.
Seizures are very prominent in teenagers and especially autistic teenagers so parents need to be hyper sensitive to this. Studies have shown that one in four autistic teens will experience one or more seizures during their teen years. If you haven’t already, make an appointment with a neurology specialist or your family practitioner so you know what to look for, the warning signs and how to handle your teenager’s seizures if and when they happen.
One of the common issues for teenagers with autism is the struggle they will have with fitting in at school – this can be heartbreaking for parents to observe. It is important to explain to your teen that all teens and adults for that matter have to work at fitting it. Not every student will befriend your teen and explain that it is okay if they mesh with everyone.
Many psychologists recommend giving your teen some books about socialization and fitting in which are written by leading experts in the field of autism to help them understand. You can also offer to take or drop off your teen at a local social skills group so that they have more exposure mingling with others. Practice makes perfect, and the more your teen centers themselves in social groups, the more comfortable they will become and the better they will feel about themselves.