Understanding the developing mind and brain of a teenager with all of the changes they are going through can be extremely difficult. This difficulty can be compounded when you have a teen with Autism Spectrum Disorder as their brain works differently from neurotypical teenagers. To assist your teen as they journey through adolescence, it can be helpful to understand how teenagers’ brains work differently if they are on the spectrum.
The Autistic teenage brain and how it reacts differently
As children transition to adolescence, their brains, like a computer, get upgraded software and develop stronger wired connections. These upgrades help teens create and maintain friendships, flourish in school, gain independence, and increase work around the house. For individuals with autism, however, research has shown that the connections between different parts of the brain diverge from neurotypical individuals.
One way teens with ASD diverge from neurotypicals is that they have an overactive amygdala which hinders them from coping in unfamiliar social situations. Neurotypical teens can practice amygdala habituation which allows them to become accustomed to familiar social situations so they can let their guard down. ASD teenage brains, on the other hand, show sustained amygdala activity over time highlighting their difficulty to adjust to a situation. This perennial anxiety can explain why your teen actively seeks to avoid social situations.
Another way the teenage ASD brain works differently is how it responds to and processes sensory information. Teens with ASD often suffer from hypersensitivity and struggle with bright lights, loud sounds, or crowded rooms. Researchers found that different patterns of brain wave activity were triggered in those with ASD compared to neurotypical teens when performing the same visual task.
Lastly, teens with ASD mature at a much slower pace with executive functioning skills. Executive functioning skills are responsible for organization, flexibility, working memory, and initiating skills. Without developed executive functioning, teens can struggle with making plans, keeping track of time, maintaining self-control and working well together in a group.
Discover Seven Stars can help
Research has demonstrated that early interventions can help mitigate the symptoms of ASD to help put your child on a path to success. And while it can be difficult to see your teen fall behind their peers because of neurological lags, programs like Seven Stars can help.
Seven Stars is a leading autism-focused residential treatment center that specializes in helping teens 13-18 struggling with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our passionate team of experts takes a multidisciplinary approach to treat neurodevelopmental, learning, psychiatric, communication, emotional, social, and behavioral complications associated with developing teenage ASD brains.
We utilize a revolutionary hybrid model of treatment that combines the assessment aspects of a multidisciplinary assessment center, the experiential learning of an adventure program, and the therapy and classroom academics of residential treatment. For more information, please call (844) 601-1167.