The average teenager prioritizes their social life. This is how they stay cool and feel connected. Does this description sound nothing like your teen? Do they choose to separate themselves from society whenever possible? If you answered yes to these questions, this is for you.
Young people on the autism spectrum have a different neurological wiring than the average teenager. Before you start to worry about your teen’s social isolation habits, you should know some things about this may be “normal”.
Self-preservation and being anti-social are two VERY different things. Having “alone time” can be very effective for teens on the autism spectrum. Most teens use social interaction as a way to “recharge their battery”, so to speak. But for teens on the autism spectrum, social interaction can have quite the opposite effect. Lengthy social interactions can make some individuals feel anxious and drain them. Separating oneself from others is a sometimes a reasonable measure for recharging energy and having introspective time. Take this into consideration before losing sleep over your child’s social habits.
Interacting with your isolator
This is a situation you should approach with care and consideration. If you find that your teen is simply practicing his or her own type of recharge, then you should respect that. Allow them alone time. Here are some simple steps you can follow to keep healthy communication in your teen’s life:
- Meet in the middle. Do not force social interaction upon your child. This will always end badly. Typically, if you give them some downtime, they are charged for a couple of social events each day (e.g., school, girl scouts, or karate class). Compromising is key.
- Put silent time on the schedule. Planning one activity after another can feel like torture and exhaust your teen (e.g., do homework, then do chores, then go shopping, then…). Give them their “me time”, it’ll be better for everyone!
- Skip small talk. Teens on the spectrum tend to live in their own mind, thinking about why things happen or daydreaming. Shallow conversations (e.g., about what happened at school today) are dreadful. They don’t want to have conversations that won’t matter ten minutes from now. Instead, they want to talk about their passions. If you want to meaningful interaction with your child, talk about their special interests.
Seven Stars can help
Seven Stars is a residential treatment center for adolescents ages 13-17. The program provides treatment for young boys and girls struggling with neurodevelopmental disorders. Treatment at Seven Stars is customized to meet each child’s unique needs. Students engage in academic courses, physical activities and chore-like responsibilities all while being supported in a healthy community. Seven Stars gives students a real-life perspective while incorporating therapeutic elements to help them learn how to better self-navigate. This program gives young people the opportunity to improve their self-confidence, self-awareness, and gain the skills they need to lead happy and healthy lives. Let us help your family today!
Contact us @ 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.