Your child has blossomed into a mini-young adult right before your eyes. You may not feel like you have much influence on your child these days, but their behavior correlates with the bond you both have. Your teen has likely had plenty of advice, practice tasks, and interventions to help them become more independent later in life.
However, as a teenager with autism, your child may face more overwhelming, distressing, and confusing scenarios. If your child is reaching adolescence, consider this advice for parents raising a teenager with autism.
Embrace Their New Interests
The most important thing to do when raising a teenager with autism is to embrace their new interests and connect with them meaningfully. Although it’s easier said than done, you should establish time during your day where you talk about their interests and school day. Talking through family game night evening meals is a great way to hear about your child’s newfound interests, school day, or funny moments with friends.
Help Ease Them Into Adolescence
Becoming a teenager is awkward for any pre-teen, but for a teenager with autism, these new life changes can be especially challenging. Adjusting to the changes going on with their body and mind can be overwhelming—so expect many questions.
Although they may have learned a few things at school, many kids with autism have trouble applying that to their life. As a parent, it is your job to be open to discussing or answering any question, no matter how awkward it may seem.
Tell Them It’s OK To Make Mistakes
A common challenge that parents of children with autism face is the pressure to ensure that their child hits all their benchmarks and makes progress. Although you want your child to succeed academically, it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and just because your teen makes a mistake doesn’t mean they’re falling behind. All teenagers learn how to be independent and make decisions on their own. Sometimes, the best way to learn is by making small mistakes.
Encourage Them To Connect With Their Peers
When you have autism, you may have trouble communicating with your peers. Social communication can be challenging for some pre-teens and teenagers with autism. Whether it’s making eye contact or starting a conversation, making friends can be hard.
Most teens with autism will isolate themselves to avoid the feeling of not “fitting in,” but you should encourage your child to make friends with like-minded people. Help your child find social groups by signing them up for clubs or activities they like so that they meet people with the same interests as them.