They say that kids grow up fast, but I doubt anyone is ready for your baby to enter their angsty teenage years. Many parents hold their breath when their child enters adolescence because they’re afraid of changes in interests, fluctuating attitudes, not to mention their new ability to drive. However, the fear of your child growing up can intensify when your child has autism.
Autism is a life-long condition that can become even more confusing, distressing, and overwhelming when navigating life as a teenager. Luckily, there is a range of ways you can help your child adapt to this new phase in their life.
Don’t be afraid of your child growing up. Here are some parenting tips for raising a teen with autism.
Keep Encouraging Them To Make Friends
An important tip for parents raising a teen with autism is continuously encouraging them to socialize and make friends. Social communication can be challenging for all teenagers, especially teens with autism. Whether starting a conversation or knowing what to talk about, making friends can be stressful.
So, how can you help? Encourage your teen to join clubs that seem interesting to them and make friends with those with the same hobbies and interests. It’s important to ensure that your teen understands the true meaning of friendship and realizes that people who say rude or mean remarks are not friends.
Ease Them Into Their Teen Years
Teenage life is awkward for any adolescent. Random growth spurts, discovering a sense of self, and finding new interests and hobbies are experiences teens go through and struggle to navigate. A teen with autism might have trouble grasping these life events and changes. As a parent, it’s essential to reassure your child about these natural changes and be open to talking about what’s going on.
Instead of sweeping these discussions under the rug, be honest, tell your teenager what to expect, and teach them healthy coping methods when feeling anxious or scared. If you don’t know where to start, there are a few books that help parents navigate raising a child with autism.
Allow Them To Make Mistakes
As a parent, it’s easy to want to solve all the problems your child may encounter. It’s hard to watch your child, who once needed you to tie their shoes, now become independent. It’s even more challenging for a parent with a child with autism because there’s a chance that they will make a mistake.
But that’s a part of learning. It’s essential that parents cast aside their fear and guilt and allow their teens to face challenges on their own using the skills and knowledge learned over the years. So, now and then, ask your teen to do small tasks, such as making their own sandwich or going into the store while you wait outside. It may be stressful for you and your teen, but practicing is key!