Parenting Adolescents with Autism
Clinical Resources continued...
• Create social opportunities in which a teen can experience success and have a better chance of developing age-appropriate friendships. Developing and nurturing a friendship takes ongoing assessment, creativity, and planning. As individuals learn skills to better understand the perspective of their peers and how to engage them more affectively, they need opportunities to practice and be appropriately challenged as well. This process can be the most difficult. It involves working closely with the family and anyone in the family’s network who can be involved, as well as school personnel, community contacts, and “good-fit” opportunities within our agency. Every case has different needs, so each child’s social supports represent a new puzzle to solve.
Whatever strategies are used to build social competency, it is important to have a professional on board who is strong in behavior assessment and developing broad programs to support multiple areas of need. These include behavior challenges, stress and coping, social skill development, building age-appropriate recreational skills, community skills, career development, work-related skills, and relationship building. When choosing a professional to lead the team’s efforts, make sure he or she can speak to the individual’s needs across all of these areas, or consults with other professionals to put together an effective plan.
There are a number of organizations that can provide helpful information for navigating these complex issues. The most useful support will likely come from local professionals who can help frame the unique needs of the individual. For a broader look at how to support adolescents on the autism spectrum, here are some good places to start:
• Association for Positive Behavior Support (www.apbs.org)
• Autism Speaks (www.autismspeaks.org)
• TASH (www.tash.org)
About the author: Dr. William Frea is a licensed clinical psychologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He is Founder and Chief Clinical Officer of Autism Spectrum Therapies (AST), a private agency serving children and families throughout Southern California. More information about AST’s early intervention programs, parent workshops and tip sheets, and numerous other services can be found on their website at www.autismtherapies.com.
WebMD Feature from “Exceptional Parent” Magazine