5 Constants in the Lives of Autistic Teens

5 Constants in the Lives of Autistic Teens

The teen years can be difficult for anyone, but the lives of autistic teens can be especially difficult.

The degree of difficulty depends on the individual on the spectrum and the support for autism they receive from their family and professional therapists, among others.

With teenage life comes a variety of constants to expect as they gradually grow into adulthood.

Some things to expect in the lives of autistic teens include emotional challenges and differences.

Some autistic preteens and teenagers have problems recognizing their own and other people's feelings.

This especially happens when they're distressed, even though they know the terms for such emotions.

Autistic teens also struggle with reading social cues.

They struggle with social communication and participation.

Autistic individuals may find it difficult to maintain eye contact, participate in group activities, and build friendships.

They might not understand body language or facial expression; they stand too close; they ignore signs of boredom or frustration.

Below are more details on constants in the lives of autistic teens.

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Lauren Day, SWC

Lauren Day, SWC

(719) 602-1342
Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Jessica Titone, LPCC

Jessica Titone, LPCC

(720) 437-9089
Kelsey Motley, LPCC

Kelsey Motley, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Joel Harms, MA, LPC

(720) 449-4121
Vanessa Curran, LPCC

Vanessa Curran, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Marta Schmuki, LPC

Marta Schmuki, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518

Emotional Challenges and Differences 

Emotional ups and downs are common during adolescence.

While some autistic adolescents experience an emotional roller coaster, others have significantly less turmoil than their neurotypical counterparts.

Most outgoing and capable autistic kids struggle with puberty's emotional challenges because they desire social acceptance and are sensitive to rejection.

Teens with autism may have additional difficulties beyond puberty's typical ups and downs.

These include emotional immaturity that shows itself through actions or interests more typical of a younger child.

They may also experience extreme anxiety, particularly when things aren't as they usually are.

Some autistic teens have difficulty expressing their feelings. For this reason, they may come off as cold and distant.

In other circumstances, they may also have trouble reading the emotions conveyed by others' expressions, tones of voice, and body language.

They may disregard or misinterpret how others feel or behave in a certain situation.

Reading Social Cues is a Struggle 

Understanding and using social cues is crucial for effective communication and social interaction.

Keywords, tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions are only examples of the many types of social cues.

Social cues are something that people learn and practice from a young age, but people with autism may struggle to pick up on the subtleties.

However, because autistic people may use alternative strategies for navigating the world and engaging with others, that doesn't mean they're socially inept.

Most people learn to read faces naturally and become "experts" at picking up on cues during normal conversation.

However, people on the spectrum avoid looking at faces as a way to adapt because their amygdalas are more active.

To put it simply, when they make eye contact, they are more likely to feel agitated and anxious.

Puberty and Adulthood 

In other ways, teens on the spectrum may need more help than their peers, especially when it comes to understanding puberty and sexual development.

Planning for an autistic child's life as an adult can start when they are still a young teen.

In fact, the earlier you start to plan, the better chance you have of making the most of the lives of autistic teens.

Don't assume that kids with ASD will know how to use what they learn in health class in their own lives.

Teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may not know by instinct what kinds of information and bodily actions should be kept private.

A teen with autism may develop sexual desires and feelings of attraction to other people.

For example, it is not uncommon for teens on the autism spectrum often engage in masturbation; thus, it's crucial that they be educated on the subject.

Sensory Challenges 

The difficulty with sensory input is one of the characteristics of autism.

Hypersensitivity to strong lights or specific light wavelengths is common among autistic individuals (e.g., LED or fluorescent lights).

Frequently, sounds are too loud, lights are too bright, and particular smells, tastes, and textures can be quite upsetting to the person.

This can lead to sensory avoidance, which is the attempt to escape from stimuli that most individuals can ignore with ease.

Avoiding physical touch, covering one's ears to block out loud noises, or avoiding particular types of clothes are all examples of sensory avoidance.

Also, the ability to feel pain and heat can also be impacted by having an alternative sensory system.

An altered sensory system can lead to chronic hypervigilance, tiredness, and sleep issues.

The stress of trying to interpret sensory input might make it difficult to concentrate and stay focused during the day.

Finding a Place in the World 

Many adolescents with ASD experience problems with social isolation even if they are able to avoid bullying.

The autistic person's early realization that they are different from the norm shapes their social interactions.

Many people on the autism spectrum, including children and adults, require assistance in developing appropriate social skills.

They may want to socialize but feel awkward approaching their pals or anxious about trying anything new.

Studies found that autistic people are less likely to participate in social activities than teenagers with speech and language impairments or intellectual disabilities.

Developing one's social abilities via repeated practice can boost community involvement and contribute to positive outcomes like happiness and friendship.

Social skills therapists can help teach a child with autism how to get along with other people.


It is essential to note that young adults with autism are at a higher risk for various chronic illnesses than their neurotypical peers.

It is critical to give adequate support for autism and to monitor a teen's psychological and physical well-being as they approach adulthood.

Five constants in the lives of autistic teens include; emotional challenges and difficulties, struggles reading social cues, preparing for puberty/adulthood, sensory challenges, and finding a place in the social world.


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May 24th, 2024

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