For many parents, the tale is all too familiar: after months of research and discussion, your child receives a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), only to find out that what seemed like just typical preteen behavior was actually a sign of their ASD. It can be a daunting reality to face, but it’s important to recognize that ASD often doesn’t become apparent until the preteen years—because of this, diagnosis and treatment might come a bit later than usual. Autism in preteens is much more common than many parents realize, and understanding the signs can help prepare families for successful interventions.
Services like autism support for schools can be an especially helpful part of treatment. No matter what age your child is when they receive a diagnosis, it’s important to be aware of signs of autism in preteens so you can be prepared to provide the best possible care.
Why Autism Might Not Be Diagnosed Until the Preteen Years
Autism can often fly under the radar in younger children. This is because many of the signs that are used to diagnose ASD—such as social skills deficits, repetitive behaviors, or difficulty empathizing with others—are often seen in many young children. While some of these behaviors might be more pronounced in children with autism, they aren’t always indicative of ASD until the child reaches a certain age. It’s also possible for the signs to become more pronounced as the child gets older and is exposed to new social situations or learns new skills.
Signs of Autism in Preteens
One of the most important things to recognize is that there’s no single sign of autism, and that every child is different. That said, there are some common signs that can show up in preteens with ASD. These include:
- Difficulty with social skills, such as not being able to read nonverbal cues or engage in conversations effectively
- Repetitive speech patterns and rigid adherence to routines
- Obsessions with certain topics or objects
- Difficulty empathizing with others or recognizing their feelings
- Hyperactivity, such as difficulty staying still for long periods of time
While these signs don’t always point to autism, it’s important to be aware of them and consult your child’s doctor if you see any of these behaviors.
Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder in Kids and Preteens
When it comes to treating autism spectrum disorder, it’s especially important to keep in mind that every child is different and requires a tailored approach. However, some of the most effective treatments include:
- Behavioral therapy, which can help modify behaviors and teach skills
- Social skills groups, which can help teach social interaction and coping strategies
- Functional behavior assessments, which can help identify the root cause of problem behaviors
No matter what treatment plan you follow, being an active participant in your child’s care is one of the most important things you can do. Finding a treatment provider that actively partners with families and provides resources to help loved ones can be an invaluable part of the process.
Take the First Step Towards Helping Your Preteen by Calling Rising Above ABA
At Rising Above ABA, we understand the unique needs of families struggling with autism spectrum disorder, and our team is dedicated to providing the best possible treatment and support. We work to provide a comprehensive approach to care tailored to each individual family’s needs—from helping identify the signs of autism in preteens to providing critical support services. Through in-home, center-based, and in-school therapy, we strive to empower families and help them reach their goals.