How to Help My High Functioning Autism Teen

Has your teenager been diagnosed with high functioning autism (ASD – autism spectrum disorder) or do you suspect they are high spectrum autism? The behaviors, sometimes, can be similar to an average troubled teenager and very challenging for parents especially when an adolescent is going through their puberty years.

Many parents experience defiance, rebellious, and even explosive behavior with their teenager at times — but when does it cross over to a diagnosis of possibly being on the spectrum? Some teens that are ADHD could possibly be diagnosed high functioning on the spectrum.

Research has proven girls are less likely to be diagnosed with ASD than boys, it’s also important to understand that high functioning autism doesn’t always diminish your teen’s intelligence level. ASD students can be very smart, however struggle with organizational skills.

Identifying high functioning autism (HFA) in a teenager can be challenging, as the symptoms may be subtle and varied.

Common Signs and Behaviors of High Functioning Autism in a Teen

1. Social Skills – HFA teens and young adults can have difficulties with peer relationships and making friends. What may seem as socially awkward, young people with high functioning autism typically have a hard reading non-verbal cues such as understanding body language or facial expressions. They usually will avoid social activities and gatherings with a large number of people.


2. Emotional Regulation – Dealing with heightened emotions such as anger, rage and stress can be more difficult for HFA teenagers. Reality is, it’s just as challenging for an average person when they are going through the natural emotion of being extremely upset, however teens on the spectrum have more of a struggle not only expressing themselves appropriately, but understanding others’ emotions.

3. Academic Performance – In many situations you are working with smart teenagers that are unable to achieve their potential, usually because of their emotional issues and lack of organizational skills. Many HFA teens will excel in subjects that are their favorite interests.

4. Struggle Expressing Empathy – HFA teens struggle with understanding the perspective and feelings of other people. This is yet another reason why they have problems making and keeping friends.

5. Executive Functioning Challenges – Many young people that are high functioning on the spectrum have difficulty with organization, time management, and planning. They struggle with multi-tasking as well as completing or initiating tasks independently.

How a Therapeutic Boarding School Can Help My High Functioning Teen

Have you exhausted your local resources for your teenager? Do you feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells or maybe your son or daughter is simply not moving forward in their life?

The good news is, there are life skills and/or social skills therapeutic programs that can help your teen or young adult launch into a healthy future.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools for teens and/or young adults can offer the following ways to help stimulate your teen in a positive direction, incorporate both social skills and life skills and give them a second opportunity at bright future:

1. Therapy through emotional growth. A teen or young adult displaying a level of resistance to school or work will need to address the underlying causes in therapy.

2. Social skills help your teen communicate more effectively and efficiently and, as a result, help them build, maintain and grow relationships with family, peers and eventually their colleagues and clients. 

3. Building encouragement through a positive peer environment. Expressing frustration and anger with your child will likely make them feel worse and increase failure to launch behaviors. This helps them learn to build friendships through a positive peer culture.

4. Structure. Help your teen find the right balance between staying busy and having down time as well as developing organizational skills.

5. Goal setting through mentorship and internship programs. Typically, these programs will have interests and enrichment programs your teen will be involved in — and more importantly be motivated by.

6. Accountability through basic life skills of chores, hygiene, financial literacy, culinary skills, healthy diet decisions and more.

7. Enrichment programs that can range from caring for animals, woodshop, landscaping, farming, arts and music, community volunteer work, gardening and more. These programs can help your teen with coping skills for anger and stress management.

8. Education – from finishing high school to starting college classes or enrolling in vocational training, every student has an opportunity to learn.

Therapeutic boarding programs can equip your HFA teen or young adult with coping skills to deal with adversity, handle their emotions and change that real-life can throw at them, as well as help students identify who they are by what they can do, rather than what they have done.

Also read:

Why Therapeutic Settings Are Effective

5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools

How to Help Struggling Young Adults

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