Let’s get emotional: Helping autistic teens manage their emotions

Did you know humans have six basic emotions? Happiness, surprise, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. From the day we are born we immediately began learning how to express these emotions and identify them in others. Autistic teens may find it more difficult to understand and express these emotions. Social interaction and quickly become overwhelming and exhausting as a result of these struggles. Here are some specific challenges that those with ASD commonly face:

  • recognizing facial expressions and the emotions behind them
  • copying or using emotional expressions
  • understanding and controlling their own emotions
  • understanding and interpreting emotions – they might lack, or seem to lack, empathy with others

Help with the Social and Emotional

Things that seem simple to us can be much more complex to our child. It is often the things that we don’t think to mention that become the most important. Here are some tips and reminders to help get your child on track to developing sustainable social skills:

  1. Everyday interactions should be used as teachable moments. Your child will gradually pick up and apply useful cues in their own social situations. Here are ways in which you can help your child improve their ability to express themselves and navigate themselves socially:
  2. Label emotions in natural contexts: when you’re reading a book, watching tv or visiting friends with your child, you can point out emotions to them. For example, you might say, ‘Look! That character is smiling. They are happy’.
  3. Be responsive: respond to your child’s emotions by saying, for example, ‘You’re frowning. You must be sad’. You can also play up your own emotional responses – for example, ‘I am SO excited! Give me a high five’. Quiz your child. Act out emotions and get them to guess which one you’re displaying.
  4. Focus on attention: if you speak to your child and get no response, speak again. You might need to do this in an exaggerated way early on to get their attention. This will teach them that they should respond when people address them.
  5. All in the eye-contact: Teach your child to look at you when you’re interacting. Or if your child asks for something, you could wait until they look at you and then give him what he wants. Use a bright voice with lots of expressions to grab their attention.
  6. Teach them to transition attention. For example, ask someone else to tell your child what you said, to draw your child’s attention to another person who’s speaking. This is a small mindless skill that can be very difficult for them. Once they pick this up, they will feel more comfortable interacting with larger groups of people.

New Focus Academy can help

New Focus Academy is a residential treatment program for boys ages 12 to 18 who struggle with neurodevelopmental disorders. This program focuses on developing self-reliance and relationship-building skills in students. Practical life skills such as coping with emotions, managing relationships, preparing meals, and applying for a job are all taught using a therapeutic approach. New Focus Academy gives young men the skills and confidence they need to lead a happy and healthy life. We can help your family today!

Contact us @ (844) 313-6749

Contact Us

Please Answer =