A guide to preparing adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder for a successful future
Everyone works hard for a successful future, and individuals with ASD are no exception. If you’re a parent of an adolescent with ASD, we are sure you must be figuring out ways to help your child prepare for a successful future.
It is common for parents to take interest in their child’s future. Their goal would be to help their children make good decisions when it comes to relationships, careers, and personal interests. But, parents of teens on the autism spectrum ought to be deeply involved in helping them developing these abilities.
Education systems have understood this need as well and have equipped themselves to meet the requirements of adolescents with ASD. They help young adults adapt and learn in a classroom setting.
School Shadowing is an important component of the treatment process. It is the process of accompanying a student through their general education program, in order to gain insight into the student’s experience within a school setting and to support them in that environment. For a child with ASD, a therapist/aide who is sent to shadow the child should be trained in the basic principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
Inclusion is a philosophy and an educational approach that offers students equal opportunities for academic and social accomplishments. Inclusive education highlights the importance of educational practices based on the philosophical belief that all learners (those with special needs and those without) have a right to be educated together. This setting can be done in age appropriate class groups, where everyone will benefit from education in mainstream schools. This environment allows parents, teachers, and others to work collaboratively using appropriate resources to understand and interpret the needs and abilities of students.
Apart from the education system, parents have a key role to play in the everyday life of young adults with ASD.
Stepping Stones has several blogs on ASD under its belt, and we are sure that you have educated yourself regarding the behaviors which you need to be prepared for and how you can take better care of young adults diagnosed with ASD. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to read them yet, here is a glimpse:
What are the problems faced by individuals with ASD?
Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) vary in the type and degree of difficulties they experience in displaying social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
Their interests are not exactly like those of neurotypical individuals. Attending concerts or parties may not be their area of interest. For example, they may instead choose to spend their time on a thought-provoking science project.
They may face difficulties in communicating. Their slow reception of concepts sometimes can make it hard for them to understand their surroundings. This, in turn, may force them to “hide in their shell.”
People with ASD tend to notice and attend to every detail of their vision or any of the other senses. If these create a cluster of vision or sound, it can often lead to an emotional breakdown. Therefore, it is essential to track behavioral changes.
The process of dealing with ASD can get overwhelming at times. It is imperative that parents maintain a positive perspective by educating themselves with science-based knowledge. This, along with support from professionals and relatives will be fruitful.
How do I help my child? Is this an easy process?
Yes, there are several ways of helping your child. However, it does require you to do a certain amount of groundwork, as individuals with ASD have unique characteristics ranging from the non-vocal to extremely expressive.
While we cannot offer definitive answers as there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, we would be discussing various approaches that you could consider.
Here are a few ways to help your child prepare for his future:
They understand what they see
Typically, teens with ASD are not open to change. As a parent, you need to prepare your child for any upcoming changes - at home or in his school. Young adults with ASD are visual learners and can understand better if concepts are explained, visually. When a new activity is due in a day or a week, prepare them ahead of time by creating a visual schedule that says, “These are a few changes you can expect shortly.” Visual support plays an important role in helping them understand their schedule and is hence a necessary step to help them accept changes.
Practice - Patience - Practice
Individuals with ASD face unique challenges. To overcome these challenges, it is imperative to find the right solution quickly and repeat it until your child is accustomed to it. Although this may seem complicated, it is possible, with patience and practice. Be completely aware of your child’s schedule and search for ways to encourage them so that they look forward to the event. For instance, if your child has been enrolled for a new subject, we recommended you visit the classroom and know the environment and students studying in that class and explain to your child how interesting the class would be.
Address Social Skills
There are typically three segments involved for supporting social skills:
Self-Management: It is an important strategy to attain social success. By helping your child manage her activities, you would be encouraging her to think on her own and learn to accept various social skills. These strategies help reduce social anxiety and in turn help your child identify and participate in various social opportunities.
Replacement Behaviors: Adolescents with ASD face unique behavioral challenges. As the child grows, you may encounter instances of problematic behavior at school or you might discover that your child is being teased by his peers, which can lead to increased sensitivity. As soon as you sense unusual behavior, it is crucial that you first sit with your child and understand the problem and then try to make them understand and practice better behavior.
Create Social Opportunities: As a parent, you have the onus to create social opportunities for your child so that he can develop appropriate friendships. In this setting where new friendships are made, young adults with ASD tend to understand the perspective of their friends and allow them to talk. Consider social skill groups as they help children learn how to interact appropriately with others their age. In a social skill group, children learn how to communicate, develop friendships, acquire problem-solving skills, gain control over their emotions and pay attention to other point of views rather than their own.
Note: It is important to have a professional on board while assessing various behavioral changes.
Though there are various strategies to help adolescents with ASD, it is recommended that you seek professional help. While choosing a professional to treat your child, make sure they are experienced across inclusion program, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and applied behavior analysis.
Other resources available for reference:
Please feel free to contact Stepping Stones if you require professional assistance.