Managing Autism Spectrum in Teens and Young Adults - Including My 5 Tips for Finding the Right Assistance

Jul 07 , 2022


Julie-Anne Dietz

Managing Autism Spectrum in Teens and Young Adults - Including My 5 Tips for Finding the Right Assistance

8-10 minute read...

My child has been diagnosed with autism!

This statement is either accepted with relief or fear from parents and teachers. Many will immediately also go to... so what now?

The questions most often asked are what does this mean? How does this look? How do we manage the associated behaviours? Do we have to label my child? Will it be forever? What can we do right now?

The AEIOU Foundation for children with autism clearly states that autism is  lifelong developmental disorder. It affects 1 in 70 people and is more prevalent in males than females. They also state that early intervention makes a difference. It makes a difference to a child's development, by helping them to develop important skills to encourage independence, as well as increase their ability to communicate and create opportunities for inclusion.

Scientists have investigated genetics, genomics, environment, proteins, toxins, vaccines, diet and immune systems. Up until now, science has yet to identify a cause with sufficient, robust evidence that explains ASD.

My favourite statement from the AEIOU Foundation is this. We don't want to 'fix' autism, we want to help children overcome the disabling aspects of autism so they can... live their best life.

Not withstanding the critical importance of early intervention, I believe we need to recognise that support shouldn't stop at childhood. These 'kids' grow up. They become tweens, then young adults and then adults with autism. I hope you find the detail in this month feature blog both useful and interesting. 

  July 2022 Feature Blog 

Managing Autism Spectrum in Teens and Young Adults

Recently, I have noticed a group that seems under represented in terms of understanding, acceptance, avenues of support and interpretation of desired treatments by the experts.

The group that I am referring to is the Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis.

In children with ASD, challenging behaviors are a significant problem that can interfere with nearly all aspects of daily life. Later, as these 'children' grow into adulthood, their bodies become larger and they become stronger. Sometimes, these behaviors can become even more severe, significantly reducing these individuals' quality of life.

Our Case Study

I have a nephew who is an adult now. He is high functioning, well educated and holds double degrees in bio chemistry and science. He works in this chosen field and every day manages the same issues he managed as a child with autism. Sensory overload, understanding social cues and communicating clearly with others.

His behaviours, as a child with autism were very typical of a child with sensory overload but without the understanding of why he had heightened responses to these overload situations.

I know of families who have searched high and low for a good practitioner in our area, but finding someone with training in ASD and the issues surrounding Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis can be overwhelming and frustrating. My nephew is a fine man. He is kind and calm and is managing himself well, but what of those Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis who aren’t fitting in, and find life difficult? I worry for these kids.

ASD is considered a lifelong diagnosis, though prevalence rates among teens and young adults are still forthcoming. Although precise prevalence data is not readily available, mental health problems often persist from childhood into adolescence (Simonoff et al., 2013), and some suggest problems may be exacerbated during the teen years due to difficulties with social norms, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, the risk of suicide during the adolescent years has been found to be notably higher for those with an ASD diagnosis than neurotypical peers (Cassidy et al., 2014), despite this being an understudied phenomenon (Richa, Fahed, Khoury, & Mishara, 2014).

Early and Pre-teen Years Vs Teens and Young Adult ASD

As a teacher of 25 years and being involved in disabilities for over 50 years, I have seen wide and varied movement in beliefs of why and how autism happens.

It appears to me that Autism Spectrum Disorder is well recognised and well supported with Early Intervention Strategies for kids with autism.

I have even heard some of my former colleagues wonder if the kids in their class will grow out of their conditions or (magically) change towards functioning ‘normally’.

However, what Clinicians find are the specific problems, such as stimming and anxiety are often enduring conditions and treatment approaches, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, and social identity theory, are recommended treatment options for the early-year career clinicians.

This is all good BUT, it appears that further understanding and expertise is required on how best to treat the Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis.

“The process of therapy for clinicians who work with individuals whose symptoms fall on the spectrum requires a unique subset!” While it is important to utilize all of the common micro-skills (e.g., showing empathy, active listening, open-ended questioning) with the ASD population, it is also important to recognize these teens and young adults may have an additional set of needs for the therapy room.”

I remember during my 25-year teaching career, working with people that were very creative or very expressive or very persistent or very focused. Some of their traits caused ‘discussion’ among other staff members. It may have been that I taught through the era where labelling students was frowned upon, and this would have extended to any potential labelling of any of my colleagues.

As I reflect, I now know that some of the people that I worked with were in fact on the spectrum and had I known better, I could have supported these colleagues more during my career.

Further to recommendations on how to treat Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis the article offered this view.

“Due to challenges with social nuances, a client with ASD may not have the skill to speak up when they don’t understand a question or to correct a misinterpretation that a therapist makes. Using concrete and relatable examples will minimize the chances of misunderstandings. It should be noted that the client’s inability to react appropriately to a clinician’s questions might have less to do with autism, and more to do with the clinician’s inability to ask the question correctly. One should continue to check in with both the client and, as appropriate, the family, to gauge how the client is interpreting personal progress in therapy.”


Managing Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum

With half of mental health professionals having little, or no training in autism, and fewer than 16% of therapists having supervisors with expertise in working with clients with autism (Williams & Haranin, 2016), the lack of confidence and support in working with these individuals proves to be a continuing issue in the field. Beyond that, upwards of 70% of individuals with ASD having co-occurring mental health issues (Joshi et al., 2010), which suggests a huge need for effective therapeutic resources for this sector of our community.


My Top 5 Tips for Assisting Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis

Given the foundations of this information, I have come up with my Top 5 Tips for people managing Teens and Young Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  1. Finding the Right Expert Clinicians – do your best to find a treating clinician who has experience in treating this ASD group. This would mean accepting that some clinicians are stronger in the field than others. Ask some basic questions to get an understanding of their capacity such as...  Do you approach the management of Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum any differently than early and pre-teen children? And just get a feel for their response.
  2. Assessment– determine where your child needs the most assistance and be explicit on the outcomes you believe are desirable. Write a list and ensure the Clinician is on the some page in relation to their client's priorities.
  3. Teamwork – remember the best outcomes are normally achieved when we work as a team. We are not transferring responsibility here, rather we are engaging an expert that will operate best with support and the most appropriate feedback that we can offer. Go to appointments with your young adult. Whilst most appointment time will be spent between your young adult and the Clinician, time should be made for you to take part in the session to ensure you are understanding each course of action, ask questions and seek clarity as required.

  4. Follow the Programin our busy lives sometimes it is easy to fall in and out of delivering the plan to its fullest. Try to be as strict as you can with the plans delivery and be prepared to vary an approach if it is not working or doesn’t feel right. Here you will need to find the balance between the young Adult’s need for independence and your need to ensure expert advice is being understood and followed
  5. Get Support – on every airline flight you take, there is a reason why it is recommended that - in the case of an emergency, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first. If you are not capable to assist yourself then how can you assist others? I can't stress enough the absolute need for  parents / carers look after themselves first - so they can find the energy to be effective for others. 


I hope you find this information useful. All the very best with managing your young teen or adults with ASD, you’re not alone. Please free to reach out if you need. 

Take a look at our range of discreet, sensory overload fidgets to assist your Tween or young adult with managing high anxiety stimming behaviors. Click Here. 

Live Your Best Life!


Owner / Founder DEO


Excerpts of this information was taken from the following:

Counseling for Teens and Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis | Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (


  • 07 Jul 2022 Grant O'Hara

    Thank you for this blog – I agree that this segment needs more support. I know that it can be exhausting for our young adult to hide her behaviours which she does as a form of self protection. Good counsellors are hard to find, thanks for the five tips.

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