Growing Up Together: Teens With Autism
When you’re a teenager you find your unique identity and figure out your relationship to the world and to others. When you meet someone who doesn’t fit the mold of what’s considered “normal,” you might be tempted to avoid them, gossip with your friends about them or judge them without any valid or real reason.
If a person does not seem like your other classmates or fit your expectations of “normal” behavior, consider if they might have autism or another disability. There are a growing number of people who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger’s Syndrome. More than ever before, students with all types of disabilities are attending your school and are in your class. With your acceptance and help, a student with autism can do well at school and fit in with classmates. With some understanding, a little assistance and inclusion in social activities, teens with autism may become great friends.
What Is Autism?
Autism (also referred to as autism spectrum disorder or ASD) is a neurological disorder that affects the way a person’s brain and body works. As it is a spectrum disorder, no two people will have the same symptoms and characteristics. In other words, just like other teenagers, not all people with ASD are the same. It is also important to know that autism is not a disease and is not contagious.
A person with ASD may have difficulty communicating with other people, making friends or following directions. Sometimes a person with ASD may have trouble understanding what is going on if they are overwhelmed by lights, noises, movements and smells. Certain things may make them upset, and they may not know how to calm down or tell you what’s bothering them. Some people with ASD may not understand “common sense” things you take for granted. However, with help from teachers, classmates, families and friends, teens with ASD can find it easier to attend school in spite of these challenges.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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