Adolescence is a challenging part of growing up . From entering high school , to hitting puberty, every teen goes through their own struggles during adolescence. Teens with Autism , have to encounter the same situations as other teens, from handling a ton of homework, to figuring out which friends to hang out with.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) , is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs the ability to socialize, and interact with others. Autism is a lifelong condition, that is most often detected in early childhood. ASD affects the nervous system , and while there is no exact answer as to what causes ASD , scientists believe it is due to a faulty gene passed onto the child , in early fetal development. There are other theories on what causes ASD , such as viruses the mother encountered, and chemical imbalances. When a person is diagnosed with Autism, they are placed on a spectrum , the “A Spectrum” , determines whether the person is High functioning, meaning their cognitive skills are not challenged, as much as a person a person who is considered low functioning . Low functioning Autism , is the most severe end of the spectrum. A person with low Functioning Autism has severe impairments to their cognitive skills. The main difference that separates where a person lands on the spectrum , is based off their cognitive skills , and their IQ level. Everyones body changes during Puberty , and while most neurotypical teens are excited to experience this stage in their life , teens with Autism are most often alarmed , and upset, by the sudden changes to their lives . Puberty brings on many obstacles in a teenagers life, from having your body go through changes , not only physically , but also emotionally. Change is often a problem for autistic teenagers , because they are accustomed to a set schedule , and routine .
Having a set routine, helps Autistic individuals create a stable order in their lives. While a neurotypical teenagers can deal with the morning rush of getting ready and heading off to school in a rush, an Autistic teenager will become overwhelmed by the interruption in their set order . When an Autistic individual relies on a set routine, it helps motivate them to follow through with tasks , which helps them deal with tasks such as doing their chores, or focusing on their homework. When that routine is interrupted , it upsets, overwhelms , and agitates people with autism, which makes it harder for them to get through their day with a positive mindset. Small things like having to pick up dinner last minute , because mom did not have time to finish the dinner she planned for the family that specific night, is just one thing that can upset a person with Autism. Having to know what is for dinner during the week, or what socks to wear with a specific outfit , even having to wear blue sneakers on Tuesday , are all examples of mannerisms that people with Autism do to help manage anxiety, and ADHD, because it helps decrease their impulsivity, and aggression . When a neurotypical individual has their schedule messed up , it also upsets, and agitates them, but they are faster to comprehend that they can still go throughout the day , even though it did not go exactly as planned , while an autistic person will most often become thrown off for the rest of their day.
Making friends , and meeting people that you are attracted to are all parts of being a teenager, and trying to fit in , is one of the biggest struggles every single person encounters in high school. While trying to find friends that are genuine , and accept you can be hard , but it is even harder when someone has trouble understanding social cues . Studies show that students with autism are more likely to be excluded by their peers , because students do not typically reach out to introverted people, and they are less likely to talk to people outside of their friend group. Autistic teens have trouble finding friends, because they have a harder time picking up on social cues, and they typically refrain from reaching out to their peers, because they do not know how to communicate with them.
Neurotypical individuals generally have an easier time making friends, and fitting in, because they have an easier time understanding social cues such as “kidding around”(Joking), or sarcasm. Going to the movies, football games, parties, and hanging out late at night at a fast food restaurant , are all things teenagers enjoy doing with the little bit of freedom their parents give them . Some Teenagers also look forward to sneaking around behind their parents backs to go to a party that their crush is throwing. These are all things that Autistic teenagers do not typically get to encounter, because they do not handle large crowds well (Due to loud noises and large groups of people, it becomes scary and overwhelming), they like to stay in a comfortable “zone” that includes following their routines, which include mom and dad’s house rules.Because Autistic individuals have a tough time comprehending cognitive skills, they may not understand why some teenagers laugh ,and smile when they are in class raving about the party they got drunk at saturday night , or going out passed curfew on friday night to drink your first beer with your friends.
People with Autism, want to be treated just like everyone else, and they want to genuinely feel included by their peers. Just because a person is Autistic , does not mean that they cannot hang out with their friends, join the schools sports team, or go on a date with the person that they like. It is important to remember that everyone on the spectrum is different , so telling an autistic person something like, “ my friends brother has Autism” , is not a very good conversation starter , because every person on the spectrum is vastly different from the next.
Sarris, M. (2013, July 23). Autism in the Teen Years: What to Expect, How to Help. Retrieved from https://iancommunity.org/cs/simons_simplex_community/autism_in_teens Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). (2018, May 03). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html Hurst, M. (n.d.). Teenagers With Autism: Symptoms, Treatment, & Help. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.crchealth.com/troubled-teenagers/autism-in-teenagers/
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