By: Megan McQuillan
One common characteristic associated with having autism spectrum disorders is the inability to predict what is coming next. Many parents, teachers and caregivers are very aware of this challenge of not being able to "roll with the flow" and create visual strategies to help bridge this difficulty. Visual strategies such as schedules and social stories can be valuable tools to help prime. Priming as explained in the clip above is a verbal or visual warning or cue as to what the next expected outcome should be. This strategy is helpful for ALL kids. Young children especially are the least in control of their days due to their age. They rely on adults to plan and structure their world. Along with that planning needs to be clear communication from those adults. What I really like about this video is how he explains the "check for understanding". Many teachers and parents are good about double checking to make sure information was heard. I really like the example he gives so that the child has to repeat the expectations. Adding visuals will help comprehension. In the day to day rush, don't forget to tell your kids what's next!
By: Megan McQuillan
Dating? Friendship? Sex? College?.....The importance of connecting your teen w/ autism with a social skills coach to cover these and other uncomfortable but important topics.
The teenage years brings about a lot of change and the relationship between the child and parent can become strained due to a teen's struggle for independence. You add the communication/language barrier that autism brings to this and sometimes a teenager with HFA may need to talk with someone other than their parents during these tough years. During this time it is important to help the teenager find their strengths and recognize their challenges. Many times, these teenagers with HFA are just lonely and want to connect with their peers and have genuine friendships like they see others around them having but they are lacking the skills to achieve this. They have to be able to know themselves before they can start working on learning what strategies work for them and deciding who is a good friend or not.
The topics that are often brought up by the teens are focused on friendship, dating, and sexuality. These are not topics that teens feel comfortable talking with their parents openly about and it is easier to discuss these with an outsider who they trust and who can explain and answer their questions in a way they understand. Speaking to a teenager with high functioning autism about the rules of dating is different and much more involved than it will be when speaking to a typical teenager. The teens that I work with are faced with challenges such as knowing how many times it is okay to ask a girl/boy out on a date and they decline before you stop asking or etiquette skills such as when you are out to dinner it is important to take breaks while eating in order to keep a conversation going.
Other topics often discussed by teens in my groups are homework/test/projects/group projects, organization, study habits, college, family dynamics, seeking jobs, conflict resolution, teenage norms, etc. I have worked with teens for over six years now on all the daily highs and lows that they go through and help them recognize the social pragmatics (ex. Who is talking? Where were the other kids in the room? What was the teacher doing? What was happening before? How did you walk into the room? etc) of each situation. Once they can reference and interepret their enviornment, then we can discuss different social strategies (4 W's, 5 point scale, social reminder/flash cards, etc) and individualize them. This helps the teenager cope with the anxieties that will come with the new social situations they will be confronted with daily in their adult life.
If you are struggling to connect to your teen with high functioning autism, Asperger Syndrome, or similar social cognitive challenges and a lot of what you just read above relates to your situation, please look into finding a social skills group/counselor in your area for your teen. This is the age when your teen is struggling to figure out who he/she is, needs help recognizing their strengths and challenges and help in utilizing ASD strategies tailored to them to navigate the social world to find/make healthy friendships.
If you are in the Western Oakland or Livingston County area of Michigan, contact Sabra Evans to schedule a social coaching session for your teenager! I love what I do and can't wait to help more teens build self-confidence and find their way towards a happy and SOCIAL adult life.
Written by: Sabra Evans
I found this story of one woman's journey through an autism diagnosis as an adult. She shares what she has personally learned about how autism affects both men and woman differently, and how she has overcome many of the common challenges that woman with autism face.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Stay Positive, Sabra!
More and more females with social and communication challenges are being diagnosed late in life with higher functioning autism/Asperger's Syndrome (hfASD/AS). Years ago they were considered in the education setting as having challenges in speech and language i.e. oral communication and/or written expression and reading comprehension They might have also received an outside diagnosis of OCD, ADHD and even schizophrenia which is now being recognized as hfASD/AS.
More and more research is solidifying the female traits of hfASD/AS and also clarifying the definite differences between males and females on the autism spectrum. See information posted below with a focus on:
Female Asperger Traits
Female/Male Asperger Differences
Christine Rans, Ed. S.
Autism Education Specialist
The Coaches' Corner: