From a young age, it seems, autistic children struggle with self-regulation, organization, and emotional regulation. It’s one of the many challenges that parents of autistic children face. But, then you add in puberty? It’s like adding fuel to an already volatile fire. Often, this leads to conflict and frequent clashes between children and parents.
Then, you add in the outside influences of peers? Parenting a tween on the autism spectrum can be tricky.
And you want your relationship with your tween to thrive, not just survive. That’s all that any parent really wants. But, how do we nurture this healthy relationship and maintain our own sanity?
How do we handle the emotionally charged tween with autism?
How Parents Can Help Their Emotionally Charged Tween
You’ll want to look at the following areas:
Disorganization: affected by executive functioning defecits, disorganization runs rampant for tweens and teens on the autism spectrum. Speaking from the perspective of an undiagnosed adult with ADHD? Organization isn’t always my strong point, either.
Even at the age of 12, their organizational skills are closer to that of an 8 year old. They will lose things, forget things, and will get lost easily.
Their bedrooms and backpacks are often a chaotic mess. They struggle with homework.
How do you help?
Create an environment that works for them and not against them. This goes beyond just organizing and labeling, this also ties-in with the words that you use.
Try rephrasing your language and be gentle.
To tie into the above? It’s not always about what you say, but also how you say it.
Sometimes your child just does not realize, or maybe they do, in the heat of the moment- that they have said something harmful. They may not be able to properly regulate those intense emotions. Your child could be embarrassed, scared, or overwhelmed.
If your child has a lack of follow-through, repeat things back to your child. A simple thing like, “got it?” could make a world of difference.
Now, just as your child was prone to outbursts and sensory meltdowns before? It’s still going to happen now. Only now, you have the additional challenges of hormones to deal with. Good luck.
What else factors into the emotionally charged autistic tween?
Of course, there’s more going on than just hormones. Puberty can be so difficult for autistic children. So, let’s take a look at some other possible culprits.
- Food and sleep
Any tween or teen who doesn’t have a full stomach or is tired, is going to have a more difficult time dealing with life. Let’s face it, I’m not pleasant either. If your child skips breakfast (voluntarily or not), try to take some measures into getting food into their system. It can be as simple as a breakfast bar or a shake.
As far as the sleep goes, you’ll also want to consider a few strategies like:
- Stopping access to electronic devices 90 minutes before bedtime
- Natural supplements like melatonin or L-theanine
There’s other things, of course, but it’s usually one of the above that ultimately will make or break your child’s already testy mood.
Keep this in mind and remember: your child is only human and they are only doing as best they can with what they have.