As your autistic child approaches teen age –around 12-13 years old- you’ll experience some changes in him/her. They will probably be out of the house more often and wants to keep their privacy from you. Other times, they may not be listening to you nor doing what you ask of them.
Many parents in the world find the same troubles when dealing with their teens. Hope you don’t get them. But if you do, don’t worry! Keep on reading to get solutions.
Just like when you were a teenager, you wanted to spend time with your peers rather than with your parents or family, right? Your autistic teen may or may not feel this way depending on whom they choose to hang out with or not, it really depending on where they are at on the spectrum and other factors as well, such as anxiety, social cues, etc. Allow your autistic teen to make their own decisions (to a point) and when it comes to privacy it should be at your own discretion.
Now, do you think your autistic teen is out of control and never wants to listen to you?
Don’t give up! Of course, you can help yourself deal with your autistic teen. The best way to do it is to always strengthen your relationship with them. But how?
Here are the solutions:
- Talk with him more – It’s better if you start the conversation. It can be just “How was your day, buddy?” Try to discuss many things instead of being pushy, like they are in trouble or in a sort of interrogation mode of talking with your autistic teen. Find topics, that your autistic teen is interested in and are passionate about. It will make this a more relaxing and less stressful “talk” for you as well as your autistic teen.
- Listen to him/her – If he/she reveals how critical you are of them, put your listening ears on and talk less. Which is what he hopes and expects of you (again this all depends on where your autistic teen is on the spectrum) his criticism to you, listen to him and ask what he expects you to do. Talk about this wisely, not emotionally. It’s good for him to be able to express the feelings.
- Set rules – Your autistic teen needs to recognize what is and isn’t acceptable and what the consequences of misbehavior are. Therefore, you should set, or precisely, negotiate some rules with your autistic teen to keep him on track.
- Consider his/her point of view – Regard your autistic teen as your friend and respect their opinion whenever you discuss something. This also shows that you pay attention to him and consider him as important.
- Encourage your teen by doing his interests and talent – Most autistic teens like to stick to the same things, especially if it is something that they are incredibly good at. Let yours choose what he/she desires. Giving support is the best you can do, while monitoring that the new activity is safe. Moreover, this idea is a good way of teaching your autistic teen on how to be responsible with things he does.
- Do things together – This one is surely a great opportunity for you to improve your relationship with your autistic teen. Why? ‘Cause you probably haven’t had much time to spend with your autistic teen, especially if you are a single/working/health challenges parent. In my case, I have been fortunate to be able to stay home with my autistic teen and gain new skills in not only being able to spend more time with my autistic teen but also being able to give him and I space when needed. Each week, I try to make a plan for both of us that we are able to do things together and it has worked well so far.
Still about the last point above, think of exciting activities you both can do together. For example, in the first week, play video games together on Saturday, while on the next day both of you can go bowling or watch your favorite tv shows or movies with one another. Later, in the following weeks, set up enjoyable weekends by doing these: having breakfast at a popular coffee shop which makes your autistic teen’s favorite food and beverage, going to the movie or visiting a college campus that specializes in helping autistic and other disabled students with their journeys to adulthood where they learn to navigate their classes and look forward to their futures.
Conclusively, warm and positive communication without underestimating your autistic teen is a key to successful relationship between the two of you. Clearly it won’t work all at once. Try the tips progressively and enjoy your time being a parent of an autistic teenager.
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Mandu Usoro is a lifestyle blogger, freelance writer, experienced homeschooler and US Army Veteran with a BS Degree in Social Work and AA Degrees in Psychology as well as Health Care Administration. She enjoys spending time with her family, advocating for her special needs son and writing for fun and inspiration. You can get in touch with her on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and at https://www.homeschoolspecneedstidbits.com/contact-us