Autism and adolescence are both complex conditions that require enough passion for a parent alone. And imagine what it would be like when they got together. If you have a child on the autism spectrum entering adolescence, things can get tricky. Or, if you start to think that your teenage child is actually on the autism spectrum at this stage, life may become even more complicated for you.
Parents of children with autism often think that their child’s condition worsens and regresses during adolescence. However, there is no such thing as a worsening of autism. It is just an indication that your child is growing up and becoming a teenager.
Children who complete their development normally also change when they reach the puberty stage and struggle, so to speak. They become alienated from their surroundings and surrender to their hormones. Just as parents find ways to help their adolescent children get through this process in a healthy way, the same process is followed by the parents with children on the autism spectrum. They should minimize these teenage problems, find ways to discharge their energy, and direct them to various activities.
So what should you do if your child with autism has reached puberty? It can be very difficult and tiring for children with communication problems to get through this period. Often, families may not even fully understand the reasons for the change in their children. Educators may try to ignore this situation rather than be with families in this process. However, it should be the opposite and professionals should guide families.
The level of autism in the child during adolescence is actually very important. Whether autism is mild or severe is also a major determinant of what a child can do. Children with autism usually have put their work related to autism in order when they reach the age of 9-10. Families also get to know their children and reach a certain point. In some, this process proceeds in the form of preserving the existing, while in others it manifests itself as progress to higher levels.
Many children with autism will go through this process without more than the behavioral problems that occur with puberty in children who complete their development normally. In some of them, perception and comprehension skills develop during the teenage period. They are usually children who have relatively better cognitive skills early in the school year. A study was conducted in Japan on this subject. Approximately 200 children with autism participated in the study. 43% of them are between the ages of 10-15 and it has been observed that they have made great progress during their teenage years.
However, the situation may be different for some children. Some may experience new behavior problems, irritability, and regression in symptoms after the age of 9-10, while others may experience regression after the age of 12. Although this process manifests itself in the form of deterioration in behavior, it may be hiding under deeper and different problems. Therefore, parents should be aware of the possible positive and negative situations and changes that may occur with puberty.
When these changes in adolescence are not noticed and treated, they cause effects that will complicate the life of the individual in the long run. Being aware of this fact is an important requirement. Many studies include cases of autism that significantly worsen during adolescence. According to these studies, approximately 15% of children with autism started to show typical symptoms in the preschool period with puberty, and symptoms regressed. In children in whom no significant regression is observed, a period of aggravation of symptoms is observed with the onset of puberty. Self-harm, sudden and severe mood changes, aggression, restlessness, and hyperactivity may occur. These situations may occur periodically, or they may occur suddenly.
Seizures may begin in 1 out of 4 individuals with autism as they enter puberty. Although the causes of these seizures are not fully known, hormonal changes are thought to be the main cause. In some, the signal confusion created by some areas of the brain due to chronic viral problems can cause them to have these seizures. Sometimes this process continues in the form of small and subclinical seizures and cannot be detected by observation. Such problems should be handled with different methods and the source of the problem must be determined.
Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Teens
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a broad spectrum with different levels. Those at lower levels are more likely and easier to spot and diagnose, while those at higher levels may be different. They can spend most of their lives without a diagnosis of autism. The reason for this is that individuals with high-functioning autism can learn skills better and tend to live independently. They can adapt to everyday life without any abnormalities in their behaviors.
But the real differences can begin in adolescence. Because adolescence is a difficult situation to cope with even for a normal child, it can become even more challenging for a child with autism. If your child hasn’t been diagnosed with autism until puberty, they may not understand why they are different, and this may affect them more than they should. Teens with autism will need extra attention during this period since the sense of belonging is very critical.
Teens with autism can be quite selfish and determined when it comes to social and communicative situations. They can only focus on one subject. They may have a hard time exchanging ideas and maintaining debate. They may not give their places to others. They may have difficulty understanding other people’s feelings and sarcasm in communication. They do not like eye contact and may avoid it. They may find socializing overwhelming and often prefer to be left alone.
Teens with autism may also have decisive characteristics in terms of behavior. They may become overly attached to their routines and habits. They may have repetitive routines that bother others. They can be very sensitive to situations that we do not even realize. The texture of the food they eat and the clothes they wear may be of extra importance to them. Despite this sensitivity, their sensitivity to pain is at a very different level. For example, they may wear shorts in cold weather or a sweater in extremely hot weather.
Autism Quiz For Teens (12 to 15 Years)
It is designed for teens aged between 12 to 15. It is a simplified autism test for them. This test was created in order to give you an idea in the first place. It is not professional. It is a test that will lead you to the point of seeing the doctor. Situations that you can observe in your teen are listed below. It doesn’t mean your teen has to have them all. If there is any doubt, you should get consultation and support from a professional as soon as possible.
- Your child sees patterns in everything. (grass, wallpaper, carpeting, clouds)
- My child can make patterns out of everything.
- My child can sometimes make patterns out of designs.
- My child doesn’t make patterns out of everything.
- Your child focuses on the bigger picture rather than the smaller details.
- My child tends to hyper-fixate on the smaller details and can’t see the bigger picture.
- My child assesses the smaller details before they look at the bigger picture.
- My child can see the bigger picture without focusing on the smaller details.
- When in a group, your child can keep up with several conversations at a time.
- My child has a hard time maintaining a one-on-one conversation.
- My child can keep one or two conversations going, but no more.
- My child can keep up with several conversations in a group.
- Your child can resume work or activity after being interrupted.
- My child cannot resume an activity that’s been interrupted halfway.
- My child has a hard time getting back to an activity that’s been interrupted.
- My child can regain their track and flow when continuing an activity that was interrupted.
- Your child is comfortable with keeping a conversation going.
- My child’s conversations are typically short and awkward.
- My child’s conversations are direct and don’t linger for long.
- My child knows how to extend the conversation from one topic to another.
- Your child is good with light conversation.
- My child prefers to keep to themselves and doesn’t talk much.
- My child only talks about their needs or when asked to.
- My child knows how to start and keep up light conversations.
- Your child played imaginary/pretend games with friends when they were younger.
- My child played alone when they were younger and didn’t use their imagination.
- My child used their imagination in games when playing alone, but not with other kids.
- My child used their imagination to play alone and with other kids.
- Your child can imagine what it would be like to be a different person.
- My child isn’t capable of imagining what it would be like to be a different person.
- My child has a hard time imagining being different or someone else.
- My child can imagine what it would be like to be someone else.
- Your child is comfortable in highly social situations (gathering, parties, public places)
- My child is not comfortable in highly social places where interaction is mandatory.
- My child has a hard time being around new people in highly social situations.
- My child enjoys social situations where there are new and acquainted people.
- Your child finds it easy to make new friends.
- My child finds it hard to make new friends and would rather be alone.
- My child has a hard time making new friends and only has one or two at a time.
- My child enjoys making new friends.
Autism Test For Teens (12 To 16 Years)
It is an interactive test that was designed for teens aged between 12 and 16. It can be done by primary caregivers. It consists of about 50 questions of varying complexity. The test takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, but there is no time limit. Options are scaled between strongly agree and strongly disagree. When the test is completed, the results are sent in detail by e-mail. The most important factor to be considered while answering the questions is the ability of parents to evaluate the behaviors they observe. So the options should be read carefully before answering.
- Your child often understands the boundaries between being rude or being polite.
- When in a social situation, your child is relatively easygoing. Even if she/he may be initially uncomfortable, she/he warms up to the occasion eventually.
- How many friends does your child have (approximately)? (none to more than 10)
- Your child enjoys doing stuff with others rather than just by him/herself.
- Your child can’t understand if his/her other friends or immediate family members are getting bored or annoyed with a particular activity. She/he still refuses to quit.
- When a group of children is having fun, she/he may feel a bit out of the spot as she/he is, mostly, the last one to understand a joke.
- Your child finds it easy to have casual conversations with his/her grannies and family friends. She/he often initiates those conversations.
- Your child gets excited about marriages and birthday parties, and she/he tries to have a lot of fun.
- Your child understands what you (as parents) and his/her friends expect from him/her.
- Your child enjoys meeting new people from different cultural and social backgrounds.
- Your child likes to spend more time with people close to him/her than with gadgets or other objects.
- Does your child love or enjoy the attention?
- As a parent, do you believe your child demands EXCESSIVE time or attention from you?
- Your child tends to notice small sounds that you or people around him/her may easily ignore.
- Your child gets attached to minute pieces of information.
- Compared to other children of similar age, your child is usually spot on with dates and fascinated by calendar events.
- Your child has a strong eye for details; things that usually go unnoticed by other people often catch his/her attention. Changes to those details can get him/her upset.
- When you read your child a story, she/he finds it easy to grasp what the intentions of the characters might be, or what they are up to.
- By looking at someone’s face, your child is often aware of whether that person is happy or annoyed with him/her.
- Your child often finds it difficult to imagine what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes.
- Your child has some weird habit that is not seen in every child.
- After coming back from a social gathering, your child is easily able to recollect the people she/he met and a few interactions she/he may have had with them.
- When caught doing something wrong, or in a difficult situation, your child can make up stories to get off the hook.
- She/he enjoys a bit of social chit-chat, at least with family members and friends.
- When your child talks, she/he would seldom pause to listen to what others might have to say. She/he tends to get upset if interrupted.
- After a couple of times, your child can easily spot when you are teasing him/her about the same thing.
- Your child often struggles to keep a conversation going among peers in his/her age group. S/he gets easily disengaged and may appear to be like an odd one out.
- While talking on the phone, your child is often unaware of when it is his/her turn to speak.
- Your child may often be adamant about what she/he peculiarly wants to do and may throw tantrums if you try to stop him/her.
- She/he is sensitive and understanding. She/he understands when his/her actions have hurt someone’s feelings and try to make amends.
- Where would your child prefer would prefer to be? (Library, birthday party, playground, home, theme park)
- Your child feels very strongly about things she/he wants to do. She/he gets really upset if she/he is not allowed to pursue them even after you have tried to reason with him/her.
- Rate, in the order of preference, your child’s favorite subject. (Math, science, English, history, others)
- What would your child love to do the most on a weekend? (Museum, beach, cinema, match, reading)
- Your child loves to collect trivia & information about small things, and s/he holds them precious.
- Your child prefers to use the same approach of doing things (or solving problems) every time, even though you may have encouraged him/her to try different options.
- Your child usually has little or no problem with visualization. When you are trying to draw a known object, she/he tries to participate actively.
- How does your child react to changes in routine? (angry, sad, neutral, happy, excited)
- Your child often gets too involved with something at hand. So much so that she/he shows little or no interest in changes to his/her surroundings.
- When you try to read your child a story, she/he can easily visualize what the characters may look like.
- Your child is more interested in seeing a pattern in things rather than the thing itself.
- Your child can visualize the big picture rather than the immediate small things.
- Your child doesn’t usually notice minor changes in a person’s appearance or in a situation.
- How does your child feel when told to switch from one activity to another? (angry, sad, neutral, happy, excited)
- Your child often chooses his/her next course of action based on instincts and reacts spontaneously.
- When disturbed by something she/he likes to do, your child usually finds it easy to get back to whatever she/he was doing.
- Your child doesn’t usually notice minor changes in a person’s appearance or in a situation.
- Your child tends to get anxious or nervous when encountered with a new or unexpected situation.
- Rate, in the order of preference, how your child wants to spend his/her free time. (Outdoors, gadgets, painting, music, by himself/herself)
- Is your child toilet trained yet? YES or No
- Rate your child’s skills in the following areas… (staying organized, timely homework, managing time, managing sequential activities)
- Which of these emoticons best describe your child’s usual mood? (excited, naughty, neutral, doubtful, in deep thoughts)
Tilcare Chew Chew Pencil Sensory Necklace 3 Set – Best for Kids or Adults That Like Biting or Have Autism – Perfectly Textured Silicone Chewy Toys – Chewing Pendant fo
They are perfectly therapeutic necklaces for individuals on the autism spectrum. In terms of both colors and texture, they have a calming and soothing effect on people. They can help to reduce aggression, sensory overloading, and hyperactivity. They can be used by kids, teens, and adults of any age. Apart from these usages, people who have nail-biting or thumb-sucking habits can have a benefit from them. These necklaces are made of high-quality and strong materials. They can be carried everywhere with you and they are very comfortable to wear. Overall, they are definitely worth the money you are going to spend. https://www.amazon.com/Tilcare-Chew-Pencil-Sensory-Necklace/dp/B098PB89QF/ref=sr_1_50?crid=XSTBST35Q3DM&keywords=Sensory%2BToys%2Bfor%2BSpecial%2BNeeds%2Bteens&qid=1648431962&sprefix=sensory%2Btoys%2Bfor%2Bspecial%2Bneeds%2Bteen%2Caps%2C313&sr=8-50&th=1
Big Mo’s Toys Liquid Motion Spiral Timer Toy for Sensory Play – Relaxing Bubble Motion Autism ADHD Fidget Toy, Calming Toy, Sensory Visual Relaxation Desk Toy, One Piece (Assorted)
They are the motion spiral toys that have a hypnotic effect to relieve stress and develop focus. With the bubbles they have, they give you an opportunity to escape from the real world for a couple of minutes and to collect yourself. Sometimes it is actually what we need during the day. These bubbles keep you focused and entertained for a while. Especially for individuals with SPD, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder, it could be one of the must-have products. They are great for everyone of all ages. They are a bit smaller than how they are advertised in the picture. So, they can be carried everywhere easily. https://www.amazon.com/Big-Mos-Toys-Liquid-Sensory/dp/B0731T8WC1/ref=sr_1_50?crid=XSTBST35Q3DM&keywords=Sensory+Toys+for+Special+Needs+teens&qid=1648432009&sprefix=sensory+toys+for+special+needs+teen%2Caps%2C313&sr=8-50
Pull, Stretch and Squeeze Stress Balls by YoYa Toys – 3 Pack – Elastic Construction Sensory Balls – Ideal for Stress and Anxiety Relief, Special Needs, Autism, Disorders, and More
They are interestingly fun and effective toys for your children and teens on the autism spectrum. They are made of very elastic, durable, and resilient materials in order to allow you to stretch and bounce them as much as you want. It is a multipurpose set that can be used for therapeutical reasons as a fidget toy and entertainment. They are also a great gift alternative for your loved one. https://www.amazon.com/YoYa-Toys-Stretch-Squeeze-Stress/dp/B01LYCXQNI/ref=sr_1_60?crid=XSTBST35Q3DM&keywords=Sensory+Toys+for+Special+Needs+teens&qid=1648432009&sprefix=sensory+toys+for+special+needs+teen%2Caps%2C313&sr=8-60