Teens and young adults

Health and safety

The importance of good professional support

Teenagers on the spectrum face many challenges.

Anxiety is extremely common, occurring at a much higher rate than seen in typically developing teens. Depression can also occur in ASD, especially as young people become aware of their differences and social ‘failures’.

Many teenagers retreat to the safety and security of their computers at this time, but if you’re a young person who struggles to understand the social rules, even using social media can be fraught. Unfortunately, these differences can also lead to bullying, including cyberbullying.
School can also become more demanding. Children who shone academically in primary school can see their marks start dropping when learning becomes increasingly self-directed and they are required to plan out assignments and formulate essays with a logical structure. Homework can become a daily battleground.

Finally, the transition to adulthood and struggle to find paid employment after school is another issue that raises its head in adolescence.

It’s important to identify competent professionals who can support your teen and provide guidance to your family at this time — even if your teen appears not to be struggling now, you don’t want to be left without support if a significant challenge arises. We encourage families to have on their side a good paediatrician and, ideally, a good child and adolescent psychologist who regularly works with teens. You can read more about the role of psychologists here.

A trusted GP or other allied health care provider can be good source for recommendations, as can other parents of teens on the spectrum.

Teen voices

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 young people with autism (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.


Children on the autism spectrum often need more time than their peers to deal with major changes, included the changes that will come during puberty. Puberty typically starts between 10-11 years for girls and between 11-13 for boys (though actual starting times can vary greatly for individual children).

From mid to late primary school, it’s a great idea to start skilling up on how to explain the wonders of puberty.

It’s best to be very clear and very direct about all the changes that will happen and, as ever, to use pictures and diagrams to help children who are visual learners.

Helpful resources


Teen voices

Mental health and bullying


“Everything will be alright and there are people who will support you and guide you through”