What They Don’t Tell You in the Autism Handbook

What They Don’t Tell You in the Autism Handbook

There’s something they don’t talk about in the Autism Handbook.

How to deal with teenagers

I really wish the “Autism Handbook” had a really long, detailed chapter on teenagers with autism.

What do I mean?

As my husband says, “We have a teenager and we have a teenager with autism. That’s two challenges.”

My son still has the occasion meltdown, yet they’re different from when he was younger.

My addition to the handbook would be this…

When they’re teenagers, the meltdowns change because they’re teenagers. 

They have teenager traits.

For example, they can be sullen, moody, and easy to get angry.

They can be unpredictable.

In addition, they push boundaries.

They seek to be independent.

On top of all of that is autism.

Autism

Teenagers with autism have an extra level of puberty to deal with.

However, there is something that confuses me.

What confuses me about teenagers and autism?

It may be the age, or it may be the autism… or it may be something else entirely.

But, one change that has baffles me recently is that the meltdowns have changed.

They’ve changed because the triggers for them are sometimes (to me, anyway) very trivial.

Little things that my child thinks are big things.

He gets stuck on something that seems “small” to me.

A teenager thing or autism?

Or, it can also be the very autism-like symptom of how he just doesn’t always know how to communicate with us. And, when he can’t communicate properly or quickly enough, his emotions take over, he gets confused by the situation, stops listening to reason, and partially shuts down.

This all may be autism. I get that part.

What also confuses me is I know my child is getting older, I know he has had a great many experiences already for such a young fella (fifteen years old), and he’s smart.

He’s reasonable. For a child with autism, he understands a great deal of the world.

He’s being taught by parents who try hard to cover a great many topics. There seems to be many things that I have to go over again and again with my son.

Progress

Still, I know there’s a lot that my son has grasped already. 

We try to cover a wide range because, well, that’s life. We know our child needs to have a wide range of experiences and knowledge in order to get a decent approach to life—when he’s all on his own.

When the meltdowns of this particular teenager happens, it fascinate me. My son struggles with little things—not asking to use someone’s computer, being too loud, he walks into a room to ask a question without reading the room (he doesn’t notice that a conversation is in progress).

What leads to teenage meltdowns?

When my child gets “reminded” that he’s not being appropriate or polite, these lead to meltdowns.

Sometimes, he’s upset with himself, so much so that he goes down the meltdown rabbit hole.

It’s during these times when I feel it’s just not necessary. Yet talking him out of it typically doesn’t happen—that’s the autism.

And, the teenager.

As my teenager continues to…be a teenager… with autism…His parents will continue to try to help him though these challenges. We really try to avoid them. We try to talk to our son, teach him, listen to him.

What They Don’t Tell You in the Autism Handbook

Here’s a bit of a guide for autism and the teen years:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-autism-advocate/201101/thirteen-things-parents-teens-autism-need-know

 

More on Kimberly Kaplan:

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