Archive for January, 2012

Supporting a Teenager with Autism

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Autism is a disorder that affects approx 1 in every 150 people born. The symptoms of autism include: social awareness deficits, communication deficits, imagination deficits, in many stereotypical behaviours and in most autistics sensory processing issues.

The teenage years are for the majority of us our most social years. But for teenagers with autism the teenage years can be stressful and confusing. During adolescents we develop socially what we say and how we act becomes important in the eyes of our peers.

So how do you cope if you don’t really understand the added pressure being an adolescent can bring with it?

Supporting a teenager with autism is very important especially during puberty.

For many teens with ASD using visual supports is beneficial. Typically those with autism ARE visual thinkers and learners, therefore visual supports ARE easier for the teen to understand.

Visual supports have been around for a long time and have been proven to work very well for those with autism. There are many different autism supports such as: social skills stories, PECS, flash cards, visual timetables and so on.

Today I am going to concentrate on probably the most significant of the autism supports – social skills stories for teenagers with autism.

Characteristically social stories ARE used to teach and re-enforce skills and behaviours that the person with autism is struggling with. For example a teen with ASD will have social awareness deficits, which could result in social isolation and misinterpretations of activities or events.

Social stories act like a visual plan or framework of a skill or behaviour that needs teaching or re-enforcing. The social story will break down the skill or behaviour into smaller easier to understand sections, using first person text and visual images / pictures it will describe the skill or situation from the child’s own perspective.

So for example during puberty our bodies develop and we need to be aware of personal hygiene – a social story can  help explain the need for this, as well as help re-assure the teen with ASD that what is happening to their body is perfectly normal.

The social story for teens with ASD should answer the “wh” questions – who, what, where, when and why as well as “how” and provide an insight into the thoughts and feelings of others which is an area of marked weakness for those with autism.

A social story for teens with ASD should help pave the way for positive behaviours, help with transitions, changes to routines, self – help skills, social awareness deficits, communication deficits and so on.

To find suitable social skills stories for teenagers with autism visit: