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Resource Guide

12 Tips for Supporting Your Autistic Teen

May 19th, 2023

Sarah Taylor

For Caregivers

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: 

  1. Be patient. The teen years are difficult, and your teen needs your support while navigating school, stresses, and social life.  
  2. 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.  
  3. Break chores down into smaller tasks and use visuals when helpful. This encourages executive functioning skills without being overwhelming.  
  4. Show interest in their passions. Take time to listen, learn, and connect.  
  5. 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.   
  6. Support their identity, pronouns, and name choices. Many neurodivergent teens identify as 2SLGBTQIA+.  
  7. Advocate, and encourage your teen to self-advocate. Ensure adequate school and mental health supports are in place.  
  8. Plan ahead for transitioning to adulthood 
  9. Talk to them about their changing bodies and emotions. Below are some resources on puberty and autism.  
  10. Speak openly about sex and dating. Answer questions and provide resources.  
  11. Encourage good sleep hygiene. Adequate rest promotes better mental health.  
  12. 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. 

 

General 

ACT Video: Autism and sexual health 

Ask an Autistic: Youtube Channel 

Autism AND Adolescence| Purple Ella (VIDEO) 

Autism in Teens 

Community Mental Health Resources for Autistic Youth | Anxiety Stress and Autism Program (ASAP) (ubc.ca) 

Family Smart 

Find Support BC 

Growing Up: Teens with ASD 

QMunity Youth Services 

Mental Health 

A Suicide and Non-Suicidal Self Injury Resource Guide for Autistic Youth and their Caregivers

A Trauma Resource Guide for Autistic Youth and their Caregivers

Anxiety Resource Guide for Autistic Youth and their Caregivers

Child & Youth Mental Health – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca) 

Child and Teen Mental Health BC  

Foundry BC 

Getting Help During Mental Health Crisis for Children/Youth (Island)  

HereToHelp BC provides health literacy resources on provincial mental health services as well as common mental health concerns. Check out their Resource Library for information, workbooks, and wellness modules.

How Can You Support Your Teenager 

Kids Help Phone BC 

Mood Disorders Association of BC (MDABC) – Intake: you can self-refer or refer your child using this intake form. Wait times are very minimal: Intake Form  

Youth in BC Chat 

School 

CSESA 

prevent bullying and discrimination, promote kindness (witsprogram.ca) 

Understanding Autism: Secondary Teachers Guide 

Transitions  

A Handbook for Autistic Youth Transitioning to Adulthood 

A Transition to Adulthood Resource Guide for Autistic Youth and their Caregivers

Community Living BC 

PATH and MAPs training – ImagineACircle 

See more on this on our blog: Transitioning into Adulthood 

Puberty 

Kids Health: Teens 

Planet Puberty 

Sex Ed Guide 

Sex Ed Toolkit for Autistic Teens  

Executive Functioning  

ADHD Coaching (adhdcoachvictoria.ca) 

Alexa Skills for Therapy – The OT Toolbox 

Body Doubling | Find a [virtual] body double! 

Developing Executive Function Skills: Get Ready, Do, Done — SLP Corner 

Executive Function & Social Skills » West Coast Centre For Learning (wccl.ca) 

Executive Function Coaching – Fraser Academy X – FAx 

Executive Function Coaching – The OT Toolbox 

Executive Function Tests – The OT Toolbox 

Executive Functioning Apps 

FLOWN Discover a new way to think and work 

Understanding Neurodivergence & Executive Functioning – Microsoft 365 

Visual Daily Planner | Tiimo (tiimoapp.com) 

What is Body Doubling? Why is it so good for ADHD? 

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