AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS IN TEENS
WHAT ARE AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS?
There are different types of autism spectrum disorders including:
- Rett syndrome
- Disintegrative disorder
WHAT CAUSES AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS?
There is significant debate and disagreement when it comes to the underlying cause(s) of autism spectrum disorders. Although not conclusive, there are some factors that may be involved:
- Brain structure abnormalities
- Problems at birth
- Particular infections
SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER IN TEENS
- Stick to certain topics – teens with ASD may discuss their favorite topic frequently, but find it difficult to expand into other topics.
- Speak formally – many teens on the autism spectrum speak in what might be described as an “old-fashioned” or “formal” way.
- Have an unique tone of voice – for example, some with ASD speak with an accent or in a monotoned way.
- Take things very literally – phrases such as “who do you think you are”, or “what’s wrong with you?” almost always confuse individuals with ASD.
- Eye contact – notice how your teen uses eye contact. Many with autism spectrum disorder either make less frequent eye contact, or none when spoken to.
- Gestures – most likely, if your teen is on the autism spectrum, he or she will use hand gestures, nods, shrugs, etc. infrequently.
- Facial expressions – this goes both ways, in terms of the individual with ASD using facial expressions, and in terms of being able to interpret other’s expressions.
- Non-verbal cues – in general, people with autism struggle with reading non-verbal cues from others, such as tone of voice, or body language.
- Seeking sensory stimulation – individuals on the autism spectrum tend to seek out different sensations to soothe themselves (i.e. – the vibration of a washing machine, or being drawn to different colors of light).
- Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli – while certain sensory stimuli are soothing to teens with ASD, there is also the possibility that other sensory stimulus actually promotes agitation. (i.e. – some teenagers with ASD become easily upset in loud environments, or choose to stick to only certain foods due to a particular texture).
- Get too close – those with ASD often struggle with understanding personal space, and therefore have a habit of invading other’s sense of space.
- Find it difficult to relate to other their own age – because of this, teens with autism spectrum disorder frequently prefer to interact with individuals much older than them, or younger children.
- Struggle with adjusting their behavior – different social situations sometimes require a modification in behavior (i.e. – hanging out with a friend vs. sitting at a formal dinner table). Teens with ASD find this difficult to do.
REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS / INTERESTS
- Making repetitive noises – for example, recurrent throat clearing or grunting
- Repeating the same body movement – this could be anything from rocking back and forth to flapping his or her hands up and down.
- Having unusual interests – these interests can often appear obsessive, and even odd. For some teens, the interest might be in collecting items others might deem as “strange” (i.e. – sticks or rocks) or in knowing a lot about something (i.e. – baseball), yet really having no interest in the actual sports game.
OTHER SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Difficult sleep pattern
- Disordered eating habits
- Anxiety and overwhelm
- Academic difficulties