About Autism All About Autism Signs of Autism in Teenagers Although every individual on the autism spectrum has different needs and displays different symptoms, there are signs that you can look out for if you think that you or someone you know might have autism. It is sometimes the case that the symptoms of autism or Asperger’s go unnoticed during childhood but become more apparent during the teenage years. For everyone, this transition from childhood to teens can be confusing and daunting, with moving up to high school, hitting puberty, beginning to develop deeper relationships and people having more expectations of how you should behave and what you should be achieving. Put an autism spectrum condition on top of that and it is little wonder that it can become overwhelming. Teenagers with autism can often become depressed and withdrawn. It may be that as a child, their symptoms didn’t affect them so much because they weren’t aware of them and other children their age didn’t notice, but as they become older, they become more aware of themselves and their differences to other people their age such as: Struggling to maintain or not taking turns in a conversation Talking a lot about one particular subject Becoming confused by slang language or taking things literally Have a very good vocabulary and talk in a formal, old-fashioned way Finding it hard to follow instructions or join in with games Not understanding sarcasm, tone of voice or body language This difficulty in developing relationships and potentially becoming a target for teasing or bullying can have a huge impact on their self-esteem which can cause problems with depression, anxiety and feeling like they don’t ‘fit in’. At this age, some people on the spectrum find that they excel academically and may find themselves progressing quicker than their peers. For some, the routine and predictability of the lessons at secondary school can be comforting. If a disruption to this routine such as having a supply teacher for a lesson or the school bus being late upsets and aggravates them, this could be a sign of autism. For young people who experience these difficulties, it can be a very positive step to consult a medical professional to try to get a diagnosis. Quite often, it is very confusing for the individual because they can’t understand why they struggle to make friends or don’t enjoy the same things that their peers do. Having a diagnosis can clarify this and help them to make sense of their world. It will also give them access to much more support and advice, including social groups where they can meet other people their age going through a similar experience. It can also help others to understand the reasons for their differences and, by working with the school, it can improve their school life. For information about getting a diagnosis, click here.