Your Teen asked Ilana Hoffer Skoff, whose daughter has autism spectrum disorder (ASD)—as do one percent of all children in the United States between the ages of three and 17—to tell us what she thinks parents of teenagers with ASD should know.
1. Ask For Help
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help and be open and honest about what you need. There are plenty of people out there ready and willing to help. You may be surprised at the welcome you’ll receive, especially from other parents in the ASD community.
2. Don’t Go This Alone
No one raises a child with autism spectrum disorder well alone or should have to raise a child with ASD alone. Reach out to other parents who are on a similar journey with their own teenager. Reach out to professionals who can help and support you. Find a supportive community for you, your child, and your family.
3. Give People The Benefit of The Doubt
When you receive a negative comment or feel that people are judging you or your teenager, consider that people just don’t understand. Take the opportunity to educate others about autism spectrum disorder. Explain the effort required by an individual with ASD to cope with what for a typical individual would just be routine interactions.
4. Be a Role Model
Model for those around you how to help your teenager and calm him or her.
5. Set Reasonable Expectations
Help your teenager with autism spectrum disorder plan for and find success by setting reasonable expectations. What’s achievable for your teenager and how can she or he get there. Once you have your goals in place, break them down into manageable steps.
Ilana Hoffer Skoff is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Milestones Autism Organization. Milestones provides coaching and resources for all ages, stages and abilities, www.milestones.org