NURTURE INFORMATION HUB
AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER - ASD
premature Birth as a Risk Factor for Autism Spectrum Disorder
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is common, life-long in nature and can be very debilitating. Thus, an intensive search is on to identify the potential risk factors for the disorder. Premature birth has been identified as one potential factor that could influence potential symptoms of ASD.”
Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum have the same problems as their peers who are not on the spectrum but teens with ASD may have more pronounced problems in the areas of communication, anxiety and depression. Communication problems are common for these teens and understanding the social ques of a conversation will be difficult to navigate. Anxiety is extremely common and can happen at a higher incidence than seen in their peers who are not on the spectrum. Depression can also be more pronounced in ASD, especially as young people become aware of their differences and social challenges.
Also, one in four children with ASD will develop seizures. They may not necessarily begin in early childhood but can start as late as adolesence. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain and are a common comorbid disorder with Autism. Diet and Dental Care can be affected by sensory issues which also be a challenge.
Many teenagers retreat to the safety and security of their computers during the teenage years, but even using social media can come with its own problems such as cyberbullying falling into a hacker’s territory, learning avoidance types of behaviour. They are also growing and developing with changes in hormones which create moodiness and difficult behaviour.
High school can also become more demanding. Children that were once doing well in primary school can see their marks start to drop. This is normal when learning becomes self-directed and they are required to plan out assignments and write essays with a logical structure. Homework can become a daily battle.
Typical adolescence involves developing a sense of identity, developing relationships and becoming more independent. But for teenagers with ASD, appearance, medical conditions, physical and learning challenges can make them feel different to their peers. They may struggle to accept their differences, form relationships with peers who don’t understand these differences and have trouble navigating around their peer’s social activities, independence at some level during this time is a positive and may need additional support. Diagnosis may be very valuable to the adolescents understanding of themselves as a person.
It’s important to know that the teenage years will end and most kids will have learned a lot during this time, some positive learning experiences and some negative experiences as well. Finding professionals who can support your teen and provide guidance to your teenager and yourselves as parents can be a big help in their resilience.
A trusted Paediatrician or other allied health care provider can be good source for recommendations, as can other parents of teens on the spectrum. When speaking to your GP you could ask for these types of services.
Services and support can include:
Social skills and relationships
Daily living skills (e.g. routines and chores)
Sensory and emotional regulation (e.g. managing emotions)
Mobility and movement (e.g. fine/gross motor skills, coordination, fitness)
Self-care (e.g. toileting, washing, hygiene)
Community access and participation
Post school options
‘You will see other people getting better results quicker than you and you will have to try a bit harder to get to the same level as them but in the end it doesn’t matter because if you put the work into it you will get the same results.’
Aiden, born at 30 weeks, now 15 with ASD