Teenage is the most exciting yet complicated phase of life. This is the time when your child is about to enter adulthood. They have to go through physical and hormonal changes and deal with emotional ups and downs.
Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may struggle more with tackling their physical and mental changes. A teenager with ASD may sleep less or more than usual or spend more time alone. They may become more emotional when stressed or depressed or withdraw from the usual activities, friends, or family gatherings.
They say that raising an autistic child is a tough journey, but a journey with honor. Parenting is always a demanding task, and it can be especially so when you’re raising an autistic child. It feels as though you are chosen to bring up a kid with much more love and care.
Tips to Take Care of Teenagers with Autism
Disciplines, including talking, listening, and behaving in the right way, helps children with special needs to get well along with peers as they grow.
Consider performing the following activities to guide your child toward appropriate behavior:
- State clear rules and instructions to let your child know how to behave and respond properly.
- Praise and reward your child for their good behavior. It will encourage them to keep behaving like that.
- Rectify them each time they behave inappropriately.
- Teach them social skills and for tackling unfamiliar and difficult situations.
Strategies like video modeling, role play, and social stories can help your teen child learn everyday skills and develop social skills.
Mental Health Support
Due to hormonal changes, your child might experience emotional or mental health issues in adolescence. As autistic teenagers often face challenges in socialization, they seem to struggle more with anxiety and depression.
A systematic literature review of 31 studies, involving 2,121 young people (Aged less than 18 years), found that around 39.6% of them with ASD had experienced at least one anxiety disorder. The most frequent anxiety disorders were specific phobias (29.8%), OCD (17.4%), and social anxiety disorder (16.6%).
Behavioral therapy and counseling is an effective treatment option for teens with ASD. Sometimes, clinicians may overlook the mental challenge faced by an autistic teen. This is where pediatricians play a significant role in supporting an autistic child’s mental health from infancy to adulthood.
Most importantly, as a parent or caregiver, you have to play a major role in supporting your child’s mental health. Consider observing changes in their moods and behavior, asking them to share thoughts and feelings, and offering gentle signs of reassurance.
Personal Hygiene Maintenance
All teenagers, including those with autism spectrum, need to be conscious of personal hygiene. Previously, you taught them the basics of good hygiene, like showering, brushing teeth, washing face and hands. As your child enters adolescence, they undergo significant physical development. Therefore, you need to teach them some additional skills to maintain personal hygiene.
They should learn to:
- When to put on clean clothes
- How to take care of pimples
- How to use deodorant
- How to shave
- How to manage menstruation
It is essential to teach your child how to independently manage personal hygiene. They might require new products according to their sensory needs, like particular types of skincare products, sanitary napkins, or fragrance-free deodorants.
The Bottom Line
Supporting your autistic child is essential, especially during their transition into adulthood. You should guide them through all the good skills and inform them about the potential pitfalls and ethics.
As a parent, it should be your responsibility to create a friendly, relaxing environment where your child can grow up to be an empathetic and responsible adult.