12 Tips for Supporting Your Autistic Teen
The teen years can be a turbulent time for families and a particularly challenging time for neurodivergent youth. From new social pressures to their changing bodies, autistic teens experience unique social, cognitive, and emotional changes. However, autistic teens can thrive during their adolescent years when supported and safe.
Here are 12 tips to support autistic teens:
- Be patient. The teen years are difficult, and your teen needs your support while navigating school, stresses, and social life.
- Provide for their sensory needs. Sensory items such as fidgets can reduce anxiety and overstimulation. Be mindful of any sensory sensitivities to tastes, sounds, and textures and allow them space from sensory overwhelm.
- Break chores down into smaller tasks and use visuals when helpful. This encourages executive functioning skills without being overwhelming.
- Show interest in their passions. Take time to listen, learn, and connect.
- Validate. Their emotions and struggles are real, so acknowledge, listen, and show empathy. Hold space for them when they need to talk or connect. Monitor changes in mood, and for more information on mental health see our blog on Mental Health Resources.
- Support their identity, pronouns, and name choices. Many neurodivergent teens identify as 2SLGBTQIA+.
- Advocate, and encourage your teen to self-advocate. Ensure adequate school and mental health supports are in place.
- Plan ahead for transitioning to adulthood.
- Talk to them about their changing bodies and emotions. Below are some resources on puberty and autism.
- Speak openly about sex and dating. Answer questions and provide resources.
- Encourage good sleep hygiene. Adequate rest promotes better mental health.
- Let them take the lead in activities they enjoy. Teens strive for independence and autonomy.
Below are some resources to help you or your loved ones navigate the transition into the teen years.
Ask an Autistic: Youtube Channel
ACT Video: Autism and sexual health
Community Mental Health Resources for Autistic Youth | Anxiety Stress and Autism Program (ASAP) (ubc.ca)
Autism AND Adolescence| Purple Ella (VIDEO)
How Can You Support Your Teenager
Getting Help During Mental Health Crisis for Children/Youth (Island)
Child and Teen Mental Health BC
Child & Youth Mental Health – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)
Understanding Autism: Secondary Teachers Guide
prevent bullying and discrimination, promote kindness (witsprogram.ca)
A Handbook for Autistic Youth Transitioning to Adulthood
See more on this Transitioning into Adulthood
PATH and MAPs training – ImagineACircle
Sex Ed Toolkit for Autistic Teens
Understanding Neurodivergence & Executive Functioning – Microsoft 365
Executive Function Tests – The OT Toolbox
Executive Function Coaching – The OT Toolbox
Developing Executive Function Skills: Get Ready, Do, Done — SLP Corner
Alexa Skills for Therapy – The OT Toolbox
Visual Daily Planner | Tiimo (tiimoapp.com)
Executive Function & Social Skills » West Coast Centre For Learning (wccl.ca)
Executive Function Coaching – Fraser Academy X – FAx
ADHD Coaching (adhdcoachvictoria.ca)
Body Doubling | Find a [virtual] body double!
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