AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS IN TEENS

WHAT ARE AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS?

Autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental brain disorders marked by struggles in the areas of socialization and communication, along with obsessive and/or repetitive behaviors. Typically diagnosed by the age of 3 years old, the Centers for Disease Control report that approximately 1 in 110 children in the United States will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

There are different types of autism spectrum disorders including:

 

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s
  • 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
  • Genetics
  • Problems at birth
  • Particular infections

SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER IN TEENS

COMMUNICATION

Teens and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder often have trouble with communication, both verbally and non-verbally. In regards to verbal communication, teenagers with ASD typically:
 

  • 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.
Non-verbal communication can create struggle for your teen if he or she is on the autism spectrum. Some common difficulties with non-verbal communication include:
 

  • 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.

SENSORY DIFFICULTIES

The sensory sensitivities that are common in teenagers with ASD might be harder to notice than the signs associated with communication. Nonetheless, there are some common sensory indicators related to ASD that could point to the presence of autism in your child.
 

  • 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).

RELATIONSHIPS

  • 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

While some signs associated with autism spectrum disorder can be difficult to decipher, the repetitive behavioral symptoms are much more obvious. Often, teens with ASD present in following ways:
 

  • 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

Your adolescent or teenager may also display some of the other indicators of struggling with autism.

 

  • Difficult sleep pattern
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Disorganization
  • Disordered eating habits
  • Anxiety and overwhelm
  • Academic difficulties

TREATING TEENS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)

Up until this point, there has been no identified cure for autism. Yet, early detection and appropriate treatment can significantly increase your child’s chances of leading a normal, productive life. Polaris Teen Center has helped many adolescents with the diagnosis or traits of Autism. Depending on your teen’s specific disorder and needs, a variety of evidence based modalities may be used, including:
 

IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR TEEN IS STRUGGLING WITH AN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER – IT’S IMPORTANT GET THE RIGHT HELP. CONTACT POLARIS TEEN CENTER TODAY AT 1-844-836-0222.

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