Emotional Difficulties for Children with ASD

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Children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder will experience similar challenges with emotional and social skills. While research indicates that these struggles are linked to a lack of development in certain areas of the brain tied to social-emotional functioning, early detection, and quality intervention can help improve these skills in children with ASD.

Common emotional challenges for children on the spectrum

Understanding and recognizing the challenges children with ASD face can help parents understand what interventions would most benefit their child. Those with high-functioning autism experience a myriad of challenges because while they have the cognitive and language skills to function in a typical environment, they lack the social, emotional, communication, and executive functioning skills to thrive in unpredictable environments.

One common emotional challenge that kids with ASD face is understanding and expressing emotion. This challenge will impact a child’s ability to recognize and empathize with the emotions of those around him. While this challenge can make it appear like the child is rude or uncaring, it’s a direct reflection of his brain’s struggle to read, interpret, or respond appropriately to other’s emotions.

Another way that children with ASD struggle to connect emotionally is through the way they interpret facial expressions. While neurotypical peers will typically look first at a person’s eyes and then scan the rest of their face for emotions, kids with ASD may focus solely on a person’s mouth, giving them less emotional information to decode a social situation.

In addition to children with ASD struggling to connect to the emotions of others, they also face challenges in recognizing and managing their own emotions. Without proper emotional coping skills, this can cause children to run away from difficult situations, become aggressive, or exhibit self-stimulatory behaviors and can prevent them from being able to self calm or process information logically. When a child with ASD is struggling internally with an emotional experience, a further layer of frustration is added when they are unable to communicate their needs to others.

Once you have identified the social-emotional challenges that your child is facing, an early and consistent intervention can help your child cope with the world around them. Programs like New Focus Academy can help provide an integrative approach to intervention. Evidence-based techniques are employed to help kids develop social, emotional, cognitive, and executive functioning skills, so they can bravely face challenges and build self-confidence.

New Focus Academy Can Help

New Focus Academy, a leading residential treatment center for boys ages 12-18, gives students struggling with social and functional challenges a chance to gain the necessary skills to live independently. Through decades of experience and proven methods, immersive experiential activities, and a small, close-knit, community, our students have the time to grow emotionally and socially while learning and applying valuable life skills. For more information, please call (435) 383-4369.