Autism in Teens: Top 10 Facts Parents Need to Know
Having a child diagnosed with autism can be a difficult time for parents and extended family. Autism is not a well understood condition, and diagnosis of autism is rising; as many as 1 in 88 people are believed to being diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Many teens with autism today were diagnosed while they were toddlers between 1 and a half and 4 years of age.
Autism is not a personality disorder, it is a developmental disorder. By the time an autistic child reaches their teens she or he has learned skills that assist them with interactions with others. Many teens diagnosed with autism are able to participate in grade-level activities and classes. Many autistic teens possess above average intelligence. It's a difficult condition to identify because it has a large spectrum of behavior; as a result many people with autism can be misdiagnosed or even undiagnosed. Autism in teens ranges from seeming hardly affected mild effects to acute effects and very challenging behaviors.
10 Important Things to Know About Autism
1. Autism being a 'spectrum' disorder' meaning that it can display as very mild almost non-existent or display as severe and difficult behaviors to manage. The most important aspect to note is difficulties communicating socially; things like eye contact, seeing from another's point of view and simple difficulty in expressing themselves.
2. Asperger syndrome is on the autism spectrum; the only difference is those with Aspergers develop communication skills on time developmentally, while those with autism have been known to have speech delays.
3. You can't pigeon hole autistic teens. They are as individual as anyone. Some teens with autism can be talkative and others are silent. There can be sensory problems (usually overly sensitized), gastro-intestinal problems or sleep disorders.
4. There is no 'cure' for autism. There are however many treatments that improve the life of a teen with autism. Autistic teens have different perceptive and thought patterns and treatments are usually dependent on those patterns. There are art based therapies, bio-chemical, behavioral and sensory therapies for this condition.
5. There is no known definite cause for autism. Genetics could be a huge factor along with mercury vaccines. Many researchers believe there may be a combination of causal factors.
6. Usually autism is a lifelong condition, it is not outgrown. Early intervention can reduce its symptoms dramatically. Those with autism often successfully marry and are also able to put their unique talents to work for their benefit. Autism is a condition that is accounted for and managed to help the teen cope.
7. A family with a child or teen diagnosed with autism is going to need support. 'High' functioning autistic children are a challenge but low functioning children with autism can be crushing for a family. Respite care; where a non-judgmental, patient and trusted extended family member or professionals takes care of the child for a while; can be a life saver for families.
8. Choosing a school is critical. A school that does wonders for others with autism may not be the best school for your child. Decisions about where to enroll a child with autism in school is best made as a team decision; therapists, parents and school personnel.
9. There are numerous unfounded myths about teens with autism. They are 'unfeeling', can't have 'normal' relationships or marry, can't hold down jobs are just a few. Many with autism make dedicated mates and are highly intelligent and productive employees. Many teens with autism possess a great ability to focus.
10. Autistic children and teens given patient guidance and non-judgmental companionship can be highly functioning contributors to the world. Their often very unique talents may be what the world needs at this time.
Teens with autism do feel emotions; their challenge mostly is learning to express them in a self-satisfying manner that communicates how they're really feeling. Patience and recognition of the limitations they may be challenged with goes a long way.
About the Guest Author
Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and currently partners with HelpYourTeenNow.com in spreading awareness about troubled and depressed teenagers (and how to deal with them). Help Your Teen Now aims to increase awareness on the current psychological and societal stresses of today's teens and how these factors affect the future of our society.