Adolescents are notorious for being moody–but moodiness in teens on the spectrum is a very different situation. Autism is a “developmental disorder,” meaning that their emotional age is younger than their actual age. This can cause a lot of issues since a teen on the spectrum may not be able to relate to their peers, feeding into problems with confidence and socializing.
This also means that their cognitive control systems, the things that help them cope with their emotions, aren’t developing as fast. This can lead to more angry outbursts because of a lack ability to control their feelings.
Confusion and frustration drive moodiness. When you don’t understand what you’re feeling inside and can’t make sense of your surroundings, it can become extremely overwhelming. The response is yelling, throwing things, or other ways of lashing out.
What’s behind moodiness in teens on the spectrum?
Issues with transitions
Adolescence embodies transition. You transition from middle school to high school to possibly college. Your body is transitioning from a child into an adult. Your whole life is transitioning. That’s hard enough on neurotypical teens, but for teens on the spectrum it’s even harder.
They’re doing all of this with the challenge of autism breathing down their neck. The combination of factors easily fuels the fire that is moodiness in teens on the spectrum.
The hurdle of social skills
The majority of individuals on the spectrum have problems with social skills–this doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect, though. Teens with autism are just like typical teens in that they need that social interaction to grow and thrive.
If they feel like they’re “failing” in this area, they may be motivated to isolate themselves even further. This confusion of navigating the social landscape can stir up very intense emotions, leading to moodiness.
Feeling rejected by peers
Teens on the spectrum are often a target for bullies. Because of this, they’re frequently pushed out of social groups, prompting them to isolate themselves. Retreating inwards and deciding to play video games instead of trying to make friends because it’s easier can cause even more issues.
Some moodiness is normal, but know when to get help
Moodiness in teens on the spectrum is expected, but it’s important to know when to seek out help. If the mood swings and outbursts are getting so frequent that it impacts daily life, it may be time to reach out to a professional.
Seven Stars is here for your family
Seven Stars is a program that treats teens with neurodevelopmental disorders. We combine residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social skills, academic skills, self-efficacy, and prosocial behaviors. At Seven Stars, we strive to help our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.
For more information about how we help with moodiness in teens on the spectrum at Seven Stars, contact us today at 844-601-1167
Since 2003, Dr. Gordon Day has passionately helped young people with a wide range of family, emotional, social, neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Gordon’s mission has been to help people find their strengths and their own passion for living a full and rewarding life. He is particularly sensitive to the pressures, frustrations and disappointments that adolescents face that can sometimes cause them and their loved ones to want to withdraw and throw their hands up in despair.
Dr. Day knows that you really have to understand where a student is coming from and understand their patterns of strengths and needs. When we truly know an individual and their struggles, only then can we truly help.
Dr. Day has pioneered the use of outdoor therapy activities and outdoor living as a dynamic and effective therapeutic tool for learning, confidence building and skill building. His programs provide effective, supportive and encouraging environments that help students find their strengths and power.