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The Challenges Facing Teenagers with Asperger's

written by: Debbie Roome • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/16/2011

Teenage years are difficult for most people but those with Asperger’s syndrome have extra challenges to face. Read on to learn what these are and how they can be overcome.

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    Challenges Faced by Teenagers with Asperger’s Syndrome

    Teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome often struggle through their adolescent years as weaknesses in various areas become more pronounced. Here are some typical scenarios to look out for:

    • Asperger’s syndrome is characterized by poor social skills. These include a lack of eye contact during conversation and body language that conveys a lack of interest. Teenage years revolve around social interaction and a teen with Asperger’s may be ostracized and mocked by their class mates because of their lack of social skills.
    • Asperger’s teens are often more immature than their peers and may be naive when it comes to puberty and sexuality. If they have not been taught about sex, they may pick up information from pornographic material. This can lead to inappropriate behavior and touching that could land them in trouble.
    • Fashion is important to teens and many young people with Asperger’s have little dress sense. If they do not attempt to conform to their peers' standards, they will often be mocked and left out of social events.
    • Bullying is a big challenge in the lives of many teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome. Because of their unusual behavior, they tend to attract bullies and are less likely to report this than their peers. Parents should watch out for physical signs that a teen is being bullied. These may include bruising and cuts. In some cases, the teenager with Asperger’s may respond with violence and end up in trouble at school.
    • Depression may result from the social issues and bullying that teens with Asperger’s syndrome commonly experience. They may feel worthless and in extreme cases, may consider suicide as an option.
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    Help for Asperger’s Teens Facing Problems With Fitting In

    If parents are aware of potential problems, they can help their child by providing solutions that will help them to cope. Many of these can be implemented in preteen years and will prepare the child to manage better during their teenage years.

    • Alternative friends groups can be of great benefit to teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome and can often be arranged by their school. The basis of this idea is to assemble a group of like-minded teens who have a common interest such as computers, astronomy or electronics. These teens can function as a club or simply spend time together enjoying their hobby.
    • Specialized drama classes can help teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome to learn appropriate body language and understand how to listen, speak and act.
    • Pets can become a valued companion to Asperger’s teens. Dogs in particular are accepting and loving and are generally relaxed around people with Asperger’s. While it is important for teens to work on human relationships, a pet can be a source of comfort and love.
    • Internet friends can be good so long as the situation is monitored by parents. Teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome are often naive and vulnerable to inappropriate advances. Internet interaction, however, has a number of benefits if it is handled properly. The teen is not hampered by their body language and lack of eye contact when chatting online and they can build some strong friendships.
    • Teen fashion sense can be improved by taking the teen into a store for a makeover. Alternatively, look for a group of girls at school that would be willing to teach the teen how to dress, groom themselves and mix and match clothing and accessories. Although people should not be judged by what they wear, it helps a teenager to find acceptance if they have the right clothing and labels in their wardrobes.

    Teenager years can be trying for parents and young people. This is especially so when teenagers with Asperger’s are struggling with the extra issues that are part of their condition. While Asperger’s syndrome cannot be cured, there are a number of effective ways to improve the life of a teen who is suffering at the hands of their peers.

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    References

    The complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Tony Attwood, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007

    Your Little Professor, http://www.yourlittleprofessor.com/teen.html