Parenting teenagers diagnosed with Autism can be a unique and rewarding experience. This article will provide tips that can help you build a positive and successful relationship with your child.
Set Clear Expectations: Establish clear rules and expectations for your child’s behaviors and responsibilities. Use visuals (e.g., wall calendars, daily chore list) to help your teenager understand these expectations.
Routine and Structure: Just like with clear expectations, having a consistent daily routine allows your teen a sense of comfort and security that helps reduce anxiety.
Promote Flexibility: Here’s where it gets tricky. As much as routine and structure provide comfort and security, your teen needs to learn flexibility in order to achieve a socially successful life. You can help your teen develop coping strategies for handling unexpected changes and events. As you gradually introduce these new experiences, your teen’s flexibility will improve.
Encourage Independence: Many times families feel they have to do everything for their special needs child. But this only keeps them from having a better life as they get older. Gradually teach your teen daily living skills (e.g., chores, common household tasks) that will help them live more independently.
Social Skills Training: Social interactions can be challenging for teenagers with Autism. This puts them at a disadvantage as they mature into the adult world. Consider enrolling them in social skills training programs or therapy to help them develop and practice social skills.
Respect Their Sensory Needs: Many people diagnosed with Autism have sensory sensitivities. You know to be mindful that reactions may occur, but if you implement a sensory diet you can decrease the likelihood of negative reactions. The easiest way to begin a sensory diet is to schedule sensory activities, at least 90 minutes per week.
Encourage Physical Activity: Many adults diagnosed with Autism do not engage in regular physical activity. The best way to increase your teen’s physical activity as an adult is to get them into these habits now! Exercise is both a great outlet for stress/anxiety and can improve overall well-being.
Remember that each teenager diagnosed with Autism is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Keep an open mind, be flexible, and continue learning about Autism to better understand and support your teenager on their journey to adulthood.
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