Teen Autism Treatment & Teen Asperger’s Treatment

The autism spectrum, or autism spectrum disorder, is a series of symptoms with varying degrees of severity, along which a teen may be diagnosed with autism. More generally-speaking, autism itself manifests in three ways: social impairment, difficulty communicating, and repetitive behavior. Asperger’s falls under the same umbrella and is a form of autism that is characterized by “strong verbal language and intellectual ability”, setting it apart from most other forms of autism.

What Do Autism and Asperger’s Look Like?

  • Symptoms within the autism spectrum disorder include deficits in social communication across multiple contexts – meaning, trouble switching between topics and holding conversations with more than one individual about more than one thing.
  • Teens with autism also present repetitive patterns, from very specific movement patterns associated with certain phrases or emotions, to requiring an exact routine, ritualizing often, and struggling with any form of change or transition. This form of inflexibility can cause serious distress whenever change must happen.
  • Teens with autism always present their symptoms early in life, although under certain circumstances, they may be able to mask their deficits and the symptoms of their disorder until later in life, when the need arises for a certain level of social competence. Children with minor autism may, for example, learn to behave in a way that masks their disorder, but only for a time.
  • To be diagnosed with autism, a child must exhibit behavior and symptoms that cannot be explained by intellectual disability. While the two can co-occur, they are not the same. Intellectual disability is characterized by low cognitive ability, struggling with math, reasoning, emotional control, and problem solving. Autism is characterized by a lack of social skills, repetitive ticks, and often is accompanied with physical symptoms such as seizures, limited senses, eyesight issues, and gastrointestinal diseases.

Signs of Autism and Asperger’s

Struggling socially

Difficulty speaking

Avoids physical contact

Takes strange risks often

Prefers to be alone

Physical quirks and ticks

Unusual anxieties and phobias

What Causes Autism and Asperger’s?

Autism is a brain disorder and can largely to be traced either to genetics or to certain risk factors that greatly increase the risk of autism developing in a child. No, vaccines are not one of the causes of autism. Most studies refute this claim, with more than a dozen studies dedicated to trying to find a link, each failing to do so, after a single currently discredited study using dubious methodology linked autism to the MMR vaccine. Things that have been linked to autism include:

Genetics – autism can run in the family, and the more cases of autism are present in a given family, the more likely it is to occur. Currently, about 1 in 40 children present with signs of autism. There are genetic syndromes associated with autism that may increase the risk of autism, including Rett syndrome and fragile X syndrome.

Age of parents – some studies show that mothers and fathers who conceive a child at an advanced age are more likely to produce autistic offspring.

Exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy – various different chemicals raise the risk of autism, including alcohol. Antidepressants and antipsychotics have not been shown to increase risk, although such studies did reveal that mothers who were in worse general health before their pregnancy increased the risk of autism in children. Metabolic syndrome, as well as diseases like diabetes and obesity, can increase the likelihood of autism.

Prenatal viral infection – although there is lacking research, a possible non-genetic factor associated with autism is prenatal viral infection, especially the rubella virus and cytomegalovirus. These viruses activate a mother’s immune system during pregnancy, potentially hindering the development of the child in the womb.

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Teen Autism Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

3.5M

people in the US fall within the autism spectrum

75%

of people in the autism spectrum have either Asperger’s, or PDD/NOS

1/250

people have Asperger’s

How Can I Help My Teen with Autism and Asperger’s?

Understand that they’re teenagers – children with autism can be difficult and exhibit frustrating behavioral issues at times. But these issues are exacerbated in the teenage years, simply due to the fact that teenagers are naturally frustrating. It’s not uncommon for teens to be rebellious and to have trouble cooperating with their parents, so understand that these issues may not be rooted in your teen’s autism, but rather, in your teen’s age. Patience is key.

Help ease your teen’s anxieties – an alarming number of teens on the autism spectrum manifest anxieties, from general anxieties and social anxiety to severe phobias. Work on creating a calming environment at home and work with your teen’s therapist or psychiatrist to adopt calming techniques that help your teen relax. Teens with autism are also bullied at a significantly higher rate than their peers, leaving them open to worsening symptoms and extreme self-esteem issues due to emotional abuse. This often leads to social withdrawal, which heightens anxiety by virtue of being alone

Help them navigate the physical changes of puberty – as children become teens, their bodies change significantly. The changes start earlier for girls, and it’s important to keep them informed about their bodies. Be sure to have several conversations about puberty with your autistic child, before their puberty completely kicks off. At the first sign of change, help them understand what’s ahead, and what it might mean. This includes learning about sex and the necessity for protection, both in the act and to avoid unwanted advances, as well as learning to manage body odor, shaving and grooming regularly, and not discussing private details – such as menstruation or pubic hair growth – in public, or at the dinner table.

What Types of Autism and Asperger’s Treatment Are Available?

The bread and butter of teen autism treatment is behavioral training, sometimes in tandem with medication, extensive care, and therapy depending on certain co-existing disorders. Autism cannot be cured as of yet, but depending on the severity of a person’s autism, they can live a normal life with minimal interference, becoming successful and highly functioning adults with a little support from friends and family. Some teens are diagnosed with forms of autism too severe to manage completely, requiring constant support and help. Most fall somewhere in the middle.

Medication

Medication is commonly prescribed to help teens cope with other non-autism symptoms that commonly occur in teens with autism. Teens with autism are at a higher risk of developing mood disorders and anxiety disorders, which is why antidepressants and prescription stimulants may be prescribed to help a teen cope. The only medication approved for usage against autism is risperidone, prescribed typically to children between 5-16 years old.

Social Skills Training and Behavioral Therapy

There are many different types of therapy specifically used to help children and teens with autism develop more normally by teaching them to inhibit their symptoms and utilize their learning ability to better fit in and develop the necessary social skills to succeed at schools, form bonds, and net a job. Social skills training, occupational training, and behavioral therapy can all be critical to a teen’s development depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Speech Therapy

It is common for young children and teens with autism to struggle with speaking, which is where speech therapy comes into handy. Speaking properly is key to working communication, and speech impediments can be a serious handicap for teens who already struggle to communicate with their peers, make friends, and hold conversations. Eliminating one major barrier can help the others fall into place over time, especially with the right training and attention.

Teen Autism Treatment and Asperger’s Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

At Paradigm Malibu, mental health professionals work together to create a welcoming environment for any teen, while thoroughly addressing their individual needs through specific treatments and therapies. Teens with autism respond best to teen autism treatment that helps them better fit in with others and learn to understand how the world works, as they struggle to express themselves properly and react to situations in a normal way. It’s significantly more challenging to help a teen with more severe forms of autism, in which case our professionals usually work directly with the family to help them figure out better ways to support their child.

A Place for Everyone

Autism is on a spectrum, which means that rather than diagnose kids with specific disorders like Asperger’s, all children on the autism spectrum are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, but each exhibit a unique set of challenges and symptoms regarding repetitive behavior and social struggles. At Paradigm Malibu, we take care to individualize the teen autism treatment of each teen to more accurately correspond to their symptoms and the severity of their disorder.

Among Other Teens

Paradigm Malibu fosters a supportive environment where teens are encouraged to work together on group exercises or learn more about each other in an effort to improve social skills and help teens cope with the challenges of meeting new people out in the world throughout adulthood. Teens with autism may often worry about how to approach others, or they may fear rejection due to their struggles with communication and social behavior. It takes time and courage, but successful interactions can help build a teen’s confidence.

Our teen was recently admitted to Paradigm Malibu and is doing very well so far. I’ve been happy with the experience. I would recommend to anyone looking into teen counseling.

– J. D. B.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Autism and Asperger’s

Why is autism so rapidly on the rise?

In 2012, autism was reported to be around 1 in 88. Less than a decade later, tallies are showing up suggesting that it’s at about 1 in 40. That climb is very significant, but the truth is that there is no real answer as to why the numbers have jumped that much. The factors for autism haven’t changed, and extensive research has shown that, contrary to some belief, vaccines don’t have an effect on autism.

The likely answer is that a continuous increase in awareness, diagnostic tools, screening, and the fact that more people are concerning themselves with finding ways to diagnose autism in girls (where it often manifests differently), means that numbers are simply on a steady climb due to current efforts to better diagnose and identify autism. It’s also important to understand that many cases of autism are mild, requiring minimal support, and that there is a large degree of variance in the severity between cases.

Has any progress been made in autism research?

Progress is happening all the time. Only just recently, scientists have discovered more information about the genes that contribute to autism. This carries over to research meant to provide a better understanding in the differences between children and adults with autism, and children and adults without autism.

These key differences give us more insight into how treatments might help, and how autism and other neurological conditions may be prevented or diminished inside the womb. In the very least, a lot of progress has been made towards further understanding how autism occurs.

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