Building Independence in Teens with Autism

We all want our teens to grow up and be healthy, happy, and successful in life. But success doesn’t necessarily mean making lots of money or being at the top of your field. Success means different things to different people, and for teens with autism, living an independent life can be the biggest success of all.

Helping Your Teen Be Independent

Each person has their own set of strengths and areas of growth, but the earlier you can work on these areas of growth, the better you can set you teen up to be more independent in the future. 

  1. Create a Visual Schedule: a visual schedule uses photos or pictures to represent different activities in the day. Teens with autism may struggle with interacting socially, using language, and having limited interests or repetitive behaviors. Visual supports help in all three areas. Teaching your teen to follow a visual schedule can help them become more independent in their daily routines.
  2. Self Care Skills: For teens during adolescence, self-care and self-hygiene skills become even more important. This can start as simply as teaching your teen all the steps to taking an effective shower. You can create a shower kit with all the necessary items, and a visual list that includes steps like “wash under arms” and “apply deodorant after shower”.
  3. Household Chores: Every young adult who goes on to live independently needs to understand how to do basic household chores. Learning how to do laundry or how to load and unload the dishwasher are skills that they can bring with them through adolescence into adulthood. These skills can also include planning a meal, making a grocery list, and navigating the grocery store. 
  4. Safety Skills: Keeping your teen with autism safe is a priority for all parents. Teaching your teen to follow safety signs in public or how to find an authority figure when they’re in trouble can help set them up for independent travel. 
  5. Asking for a Break: Teens with autism can become overwhelmed by stimuli when they are expected to quickly transition from one activity to the next. Scheduling a break into their visual schedule can help teens feel calmer. Helping your teen understand when those feelings of being overwhelmed are beginning can also help teach them how to identify when they need to take a break. Understanding their feelings and needs helps foster their independence.

New Focus Academy Can Help

At New Focus Academy, we help boys struggling to form and maintain meaningful relationships. Our students face problems related to low-processing, autism spectrum disorder, and other neurodevelopmental issues. We teach students methods to improve their functional living skills including self-care, homework, chores, and leisure planning.

We help to empower these students by teaching and practicing social, coping, organizational, and self-care skills in a small, safe environment. As they succeed in the program, they become more confident and self-assured as they deal with day to day life. For more information please call (844) 313-6749.

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