Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum book.
Often times, parents and educators become concerned when a teen on the autism spectrum starts acting differently. A nice quiet son is no longer passive; a sweet girl starts refusing to follow the routine that has been set for a while. More than likely, their autism isn’t getting worse, its plain old teenage behavior. Trust me, I know. I have two high school students living with me: one is severely impacted by hormones, the other by autism.
I hear it at conferences all the time. “His autism is getting worse! What should I do? Help, me please,” they plead. Their concerns are real, but often are the same concerns that parents of neurotypical teens have. It is harder, obviously, with a teen with autism. When we are working so hard to help our child to develop and reach his potential as best they can, it is hard to remember to look past the disability to the developmental level the child is at. I have to remind them, “Of course your child is becoming non-compliant; he is not becoming more autistic, he is becoming a teenager!” It is often much harder to manage these aspects with a child with autism, but we do need to somehow take a step back and analyze what is going on. Neurotypical teens with autism may be emotionally at a different developmental level, but their bodes are maturing at the same rate, and those teenage hormones are kicking in. I have put together a list to help parents figure out if what they are seeing is autism getting worse, or normal teenage behavior. Please read it with a sense of humor. It’s my Top Ten List of Things Parents Need to Know about Raising a Teenager:
10) Teenage behavior cannot be blamed on mercury poisoning or your in-laws genetics.
9) Some teenagers care about smelling good and keeping a clean room. Or not.
8) Some teenagers like to make their own choices. Usually, they are not the same as yours.
7) Non-compliance is normal teenage behavior.
6) Teenagers do not learn good organizational skills through osmosis.
5) Moodiness is a normal teenage byproduct.
4) Self-regulation is a needed life skill not practiced by teenagers.
3) Teenagers are never hungry the same time as the rest of the family.
2) Masturbation is normal teenage activity.
1) As a parent you will survive your child’s teenage years. Barely.
This list may help you think differently about your teen and what behaviors he is showing. Meanwhile, if you need more help with challenges pertaining to your teen on the spectrum, you may want to take a peek at my book Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum. Remember you WILL survive the ten years!