Growing Up Together: Teens With Autism (page 2)
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.
What Causes Autism?
No one knows exactly why some people have autism. There may be many different causes. Scientists are still trying to find out what those causes are and how to best help people with ASD. Approximately 1,500,000 people in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder—that’s 1 out of every 150 people. ASD can affect anyone, regardless of race, religion, economic status or where they live; however, it is more common in boys than in girls.
How Are Teens with ASD Unique?
Many teens with ASD have similar dreams and goals as you and I. There may be only subtle differences in some individuals, while other people diagnosed with ASD might be very different from you. Some classmates may have difficulties with certain activities due to their disability, but may have strengths in other areas. For example, a teen with ASD may be a computer or science whiz, but may have difficulty in social situations or playing on a sports team. Some teens with ASD may:
- Misunderstand rules or get anxious when rules are not followed exactly.
- Follow certain routines, such as always sitting in the same place in the cafeteria or always taking the same route to class.
- Have an intense desire to pursue an interest and become very focused on a particular thing, such as a video game, mythology or sports facts.
- Have a hard time coping with everyday challenges, such as schedule changes.
- Not be able to make eye contact, or may stare or make eye contact that is too intense when talking to you.
- React strongly or become overwhelmed by things like noisy cafeterias and gymnasiums, fire alarms, crowded hallways or bright fluorescent lights.
- Not recognize or protect themselves from bullying or teasing at school, in public or on the Internet.
- Be very concrete, literal thinkers and may not understand sarcasm, slang or jokes.
- May stand too close when talking and may not be able to take the “hint” that the conversation is done.
- May make comments that seem rude without understanding their social impact (for example, “you have bad breath”).
- Appear to not care or be unaware of other people’s feelings.
- Want to make friends, but might not want to talk about things other than his/her special interests. You should realize they are trying to connect and might be at a loss for other topics to talk about.
- Not be able to interpret facial expressions, such as when the teacher gives a meaningful look to signal that it is time to be quiet.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
Add your own comment
Today on Education.com
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Bullying in Schools
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working
- Should Your Child Be Held Back a Grade? Know Your Rights
- First Grade Sight Words List