Adolescence

In adolescence, change often affects everything. It had often been noted that the adolescent had felt “safe” in school classes, due to the structure and predictability until that is adolescence began where they can at times they perceived and or began being bullied, taken advantage of or severely teased. During periods of adolescence many things change, even their own bodies. That is to say during adolescence hormonal changes in their own bodies create physical changes to their bodies which if they are not prepared for may come as a shock to them. Additionally interpersonal changes with peers sometimes lead to misunderstandings with here-to-for friendly similar age peers whom they may have considered as friendly but who may be acting differently in which the adolescent with autism doesn’t understand why they are acting differently, i.e. pre-courtship teasing between have female and male peer.

a. Communication - during adolescence communication continues to be a concern, however now additional concern is raised due to slang being added to the overall vocabulary where the teen with autism attempts to understand what something means or how to (concretely) use or do what was expressed.

b. Learning – learning issues are also a concern, for it is at this time that areas of academic strengths stand out, such as mathematics or languages and these need to be supported despite other areas which may require support (including learning support) (the need for a gifted and learning support IEP in some cases for example).

c. Social behavior - social behaviors in adolescence are and struggle for many adolescent teens. Often times teens in the autism spectrum struggle in part because they recognize they may be different then there neurotypical counterparts and issues of anxiety or depression may begin to emerge (without clear vegetative signs and symptoms) and they are often uncertain on who they should model their behaviors after in order to imitate appropriate social behaviors.

d. Mood, anxiety, friendship development - as social behaviors become more and more of a struggle, more severe issues of anxiety and depression develop, lack of friendship issues become somewhat more severe and more diagnostic issues requiring clinical intervention become required for issues of depression and anxiety.

e. Social withdrawal – at times issues of depression and anxiety, in particular, become so severe coupled with peer bullying behaviors often seen either blatantly in school or through more subtle forms of bullying behavior often not recognized within classrooms or in conventional learning settings which leads to social withdrawal by many in the autism spectrum.

f. Human sexuality issues - although having an autism spectrum diagnosis, adolescence still appear to develop typical interest in human sexuality. They do not however appear to have the social language to seek out questions that they may have to better understand or resolve their questions or the feelings they may have. Further, they may model their behaviors after individuals who may not have their best interest at hand, following the direction of a “designing other”, one who seeks to set-up the teen with autism as a form of bullying behavior…

g. Criminal justice concerns - at times, individuals in the autism spectrum may find themselves at risk by following more severe forms of “designing others”, that is, individuals who may be attempting to take advantage of the individual with autism by having them “earn the right of their friendship” by committing a crime or doing some other unacceptable action in order to be a part of some sort of social group. A small group of individuals in the autism spectrum appear to find themselves involved in criminal justice situations and when this occurs often appear not to know what to do or how to defend themselves.