Teenage autism and its associated conditions can make a girl’s adolescent years even more complex and challenging than they already are. Besides the many struggles that come along with being on the autism spectrum, autistic teens must also fight to overcome the views and attitudes of others. Fortunately, scientists and medical professionals may soon help with this hurdle, as many are voicing a new perspective on the condition.
Is Autism a Disease?
The scientific community as well as public opinion has long held that autism is a brain or neurodevelopmental disorder or disease in which the different areas of the brain do not work together correctly.
Until only a few years ago, separate types of the disorder were categorized into discrete diagnostic labels which included autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder. This view of autism has led many people to believe that those with childhood and teenage autism were suffering a major impediment or even a mental illness, despite the fact that a large number of young autistic people are exceptionally high-functioning, typical kids in most ways.
A New View of Autism
Recently, the American Psychiatric Association made changes to their diagnostic manual’s criteria for autism. The labels indicating different types of autism are gone, replaced by one umbrella term: autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
These changes were made in an effort to make the diagnosis of childhood and teenage autism more specific and reliable. As science has continued to learn more, it has become evident to many experts that, although the condition involves unique patterns of thinking and differing brain function, it may not be a disruptive and damaging disease in need of a cure.
Instead, many are beginning to look differently at autism, regarding it simply as a condition that causes variations in how a person thinks. Being diagnosed as autistic is no longer only seen as undesirable; many believe that it can bring benefits along with any potential hardships.
The Challenges of Teenage Autism
As autism causes different ways of thinking, teens with this condition may have trouble with organization and flexibility. They may also have some issues with social skills and making friends, and many experience social isolation.
Due to the demands of high school and the pressures of the teen years, many autistic teens can experience problems in school, along with the potential for developing social disorders, depression or anxiety. Those dealing with teenage autism often require a significant level of support from family members as well as from their school and medical professionals to help them avoid or address potential issues.
With the guidance of trained professionals and participation in therapeutic treatment programs designed for teens, girls on the autism spectrum can maximize their potential and lead happy, successful lives. Teens can learn to manage the effects of their differing thinking patterns with social skills training and life skills development, along with individual, group and experiential therapy.
At Havenwood Academy, our experienced team uses proven treatment strategies to help girls and young women cope with a variety of mental, emotional and social challenges. Contact us today and let one of our compassionate counselors help you understand the potential challenges of coping with teenage autism.