Parenting in general can be difficult, but parents of teens with autism deal with a unique set of challenges. When dealing with the struggles of behavioral issues with your teen, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Teens with autism may refuse or ignore requests, behave in socially inappropriate ways, like taking their clothes off in public, be aggressive or have tantrums, engage in self-stimulatory behavior, like rocking or hand-flicking, or hurt themselves or others around them.
Addressing Common Behavioral Issues
Autistic behavioral issues are usually the result of specific challenges. Every person with autism is unique, and so challenges will look different for each teen. A common challenge for teens on the autism spectrum is feeling overwhelmed by sound, light, smell, or touch. This could look like your teen melting down in the grocery store because of the loud music and crowds. To an outside observer, this may look like misbehavior, but it is actually an autistic response to the situation.
If your teen experiences sensory challenges it is helpful to be aware of the warning signs that they are becoming overwhelmed. You may notice them covering their ears or rocking. When you notice these warning signs, you can help remove your teen from the stimulation so that they can begin to calm down.
Social dynamics can also be a struggle for teens with autism. They may be unable to make eye contact or show a lack of focus or attention. Some teens with autism may have extremely limited interests and therefore have difficulty focusing on things outside of their own interests. For these teens practicing building a tolerance for maintaining eye contact and modeling appropriate conversational skills can be helpful tools towards more positive social connections.
Teens with autism may also struggle with changes to their routine. This could result in emotional or physical outbursts. While routines can be very beneficial for teenagers on the spectrum, when they become too rigid in their routine it can become a problem. You can help your teen prepare for a change in the routine by talking through it ahead of time. You can also use a visual schedule to help them understand how this new routine will fit into their day. For example, lunch and homework will be at the same time as always, but on Wednesday they will attend a social group between lunch and homework. When your teen transitions well you can reward their positive behavior through a system that they find motivating.
New Focus Academy Can Help
At New Focus Academy, we know each student comes to us with a unique mind, background, skill set, and personal experience. Our team works with your family and child to find the specific evidence-based approaches that will help to build confidence, social growth, and motivation to become productive and self-sufficient.
New Focus Academy helps students gain the skills necessary for greater independence and success. Students engage in educational, experiential, vocational, and social training based on their unique abilities and needs. Our clinically sophisticated approach to helping students build independence and emotional resilience provides opportunities for them to grow and thrive. For more information please call (435) 383-4369.