Autism Spectrum Disorder is a group of developmental brain disorders. The “spectrum” refers to the different impairments, skills, and/or symptoms that autistic teens might have, including varying levels of impairment. The five main disorders included in the Autism Spectrum include: Asperger’s Disorder, Autistic Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms often vary according to the teen but often affect communication, repetitive behaviors, and/or social impairment. Because Autism affects brain development, teens with the illness often have delays or have not developed properly, within one or more of these areas.
Sometimes teens with Autism have a hard time communicating with others. They may struggle to be attentive or retain focus, may not ask questions, may struggle to express their feelings, and/or may repeat things multiple times.
It’s common for teens with Autism to have social impairments, often related to teens’ inability to notice social cues and/or understand how to behave in a particular social context. Some common example of this might be teens not listening and/or responding; overreacting to when others express emotion; avoiding eye contact; and/or repeating a strange behavior which is inappropriate for the given environment.
One of the controlling characteristics of Autism is teens often have repetitive behaviors which are compulsive; thus, teens are not able to control them. Some examples of these behaviors include things related to their insistence upon controlled activities which they can anticipate, such as wanting to repeat the same daily schedule, taking repetitive routes to destinations, and wanting to eat the same meals. Some teens might also display repetitive physical movements such as with their hands or feet and/or walking in a strange pattern. Other teens might have a tendency to become fixated on a certain pattern and will need to complete the pattern or will become very upset. In day-to-day life, this can become disruptive to teens’ responsibilities and functioning.
Some of the other symptoms that teens with Autism experience include but are not limited to; sleep problems, seizures, stomach problems, and intellectual differences.
Teen Autism Treatment
Teen autism treatment involves a combination of medication and behavioral treatment strategies, which can help teens to gain relief from symptoms while also helping teens manage their tendencies and developmental disruptions. While there is currently no permanent cure for autism, medication can often help teens to have relief from symptoms that create such agitation and challenges for them, which in turn can have positive effects in multiple areas of teens’ lives. At the same time, our therapists work with teens during teen autism treatment to address specific behavioral strategies and/or practices which help them to be more successful in their daily lives, such as within relationships and at school. For instance, often our lead therapists will work with teens to help them identify particular triggers that cause them to have emotional outbursts. Then, we will work with them to figure out new ways to avoid and/or manage those triggers. We also work with teens to help them practice social behaviors, such as recognizing social cues, practicing listening and responding, and practicing focusing on conversations. As part of our holistic treatment approach, we also have several different programs and resources to address teens’ academic needs as well.