The teenage years can be trying for all who pass through them, and for their families, too. Anxiety, peer relationships, sexuality, school pressures…the teenage years are filled with major issues to navigate at a time when the body is changing rapidly as well.
Whilst there are ample resources to cover young children on the autism spectrum, there are far fewer addressing issues faced by teens and adults. With that in mind we’d like to share some of the most valuable resources we’ve collated to help support your teen and you.
The importance of good professional support
It’s very common for teenagers on the spectrum to have serious issues with anxiety in the teenage years, as well as other challenges.
It’s important to identify outstanding professionals who can support your teen and provide guidance to your family — even if your teen appears not to be struggling now, you don’t want to be left without support if a significant challenge arises. At the very least, we encourage families to have on their side a good medical doctor (ideally, a developmental paediatrician who routinely works with teens) and a good child & adolescent psychologist.
Your GP and other allied care providers with whom you have a trust based relationship can be wonderful sources of recommendations, as can other parents of teens on the spectrum. You can also use helpful directories, such as the Australian Psychological Society’s “Find A Psychologist” search function to identify psychologists in your area who have experience working with teens on the spectrum.
Sexuality & relationships
Sexuality — the way a person feels about their body and attraction to and intimacy with others — is an importance part of human development. Whilst preteens and teens might develop physically on the same time line as their peers, they might need additional support to manage the challenges that come along with developing sexuality.
Websites, books and articles
Sexuality and relationships for teenagers with ASD – Raising Children Netwwork
Making Sense of Sex: A Forthright Guide to Puberty, Sex and Relationships for People With Asperger’s Syndrome – Sarah Attwood
Sexuality and Relationship Education for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders – Davida Hartman, illustrated by Kate Brangan
Navigating love and autism – New York Times
It can be comforting and empowering for teens of the spectrum to know that they are not alone, that there are many other teens in the world who see and process the world in a similar way to them. Below are some resources featuring the voices of autistic teens (both speaking and non speaking), as well as books by autistic authors that are targeted to teens. Parents can also learn a lot from their insights.
Freaks, Geeks, and Asperger Syndrome: A User’s Guide to Adolescence – Luke Jackson
The Asperkid’s Secret Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not So Obvious Social Rules for Tweens and Teens With Asperger Syndrome – Jennifer Cook O’Toole
Sisterhood of the Spectrum – Jennifer Cool O’Toole
The Complete Autism Handbook by Benison O’Reilly and Kathryn Wicks has a very valuable chapter addressing the teen years.
Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence: Helping Preteens and Teens Get Ready for the Real World by Bolick , Ph.D.
Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence: Practical Solutions for School Success by Brenda Smith Myles, Diane Adreon
Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence: Living with the Ups, the Downs and Things in Between by Liane Holliday Willey