5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Teen with Autism Succeed Socially and Academically

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It can be heartbreaking for parents to watch their child with autism spectrum disorder struggle in social and academic atmospheres. As parents seek to help and support their child, staying connected to their feelings, dreams, successes and struggles can foster an openness to your helping them succeed both socially and academically. As you seek to influence your child, the following practices can make daily home life easier for both you and your loved one.

  1. Break down tasks and projects into manageable pieces
  2. Establish a schedule
  3. Implement a healthy diet and lifestyle
  4. Offer continuous love and encouragement
  5. Learn as much as you can about autism

Break Down Tasks and Projects Into Manageable Pieces for Students with ASD

When your child is starting a new task or project, sit down with him or her and identify a reasonable plan for completing each piece. Include a timeline in this plan and make sure that you break down each step. Instructions are best understood when clear, but short and few sentences are used. Given 3 or fewer tasks to complete at a times can make the load more manageable. Celebrate your teen when they complete a task to encourage and motivate them along the way. Positive reinforcement works wonders for adolescents with ASD because many struggle with low self-esteem. Parents should be very specific about the behavior they’re praising and should look for ways to reward their child.

When working on any type of project or assignment, check in with your teen to make sure he or she is focused and understands the project. Help your child understand and identify any problems he or she is struggling with and possible solutions. After your teen has completed the assignment, reflect with them about what worked and did not work well. This will ensure that the good processes are in place for future projects.

Establish a Schedule for Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Providing teens with ASD structure helps them feel safe and confident in their environment. Adolescents with ASD tend to do best when they have a highly-structured schedule and routine to satisfy the consistency they both need and crave. A schedule for your teen should include regular times for showers, meals, school, homework time, snack, bedtime, and therapy, if needed. When implementing a schedule, try to keep disruptions to a minimum, preparing your child in advance if changes are to occur. Staying on a consistent schedule respects your teen’s need for sameness with a predictable schedule. Creating consistency and routine in your teen’s world is the best way to reinforce growth and learning.

Implement a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle for Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A healthy diet is necessary for all individuals, but is even more critical for teens with ASD as many have gastrointestinal issues leading to poor nutrient absorption. Therefore, it’s imperative that teens with autism have nutritionally complete diet to reestablish a healthy system for growth and development.

According to the Autism Network, nearly 1 in 5 children with ASD are on a special diet. Common diets include the avoidance of preservatives, artificial ingredients, fast foods, and processed foods whenever possible. Diets that are less-processed and more organic are easier to digest and absorb because they contain fewer toxins to be eliminated. In addition to a healthy diet, parents should support their teens in getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep. As a result, ASD symptoms can greatly improve.

Offer Continuous Love and Encouragement for Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Offering continuous love and encouragement to your teen in the midst of both failure and success is essential in building their self-confidence and independence. Find nonverbal ways to connect with your teen; You do not always have to talk to communicate to bond with them. Love can be communicated by the way you look at and touch your teen, or in the tone of your voice. Communicate to your child in the way he or she receives communication best. Looking for their nonverbal forms of communication can help you better understand their needs and feelings.

Parents can further help their teen with ASD by making time for fun. Life should be more than routines, school, and therapy. Play, even for teens and adults, has been found to help reduce stress, increase connection with others and foster joy. Schedule time for play and recreation when your teen is most happy and alert. Find activities you can do together based on your child’s interests, what makes them laugh or come out of their shell. This unpressured time is essential to bonding with your teen and can benefit both the parent and the child.

Lastly, create a special place in your home where your teen can relax and feel safe. Visually separating this space with things such as colored tape or picture can help set apart this space.

Learn as Much as You Can About Autism Spectrum Disorder

After your teen is diagnosed with ASD, a parent may feel unprepared or unable to provide their child with the care and education they need. The first step parents can take to help their teen is to learn as much as they can about ASD and the unique ways it affects their child. Seeking early assistance and intervention can help provide parents with the necessary information and training they need to better understand their child’s behavior, learn about the many treatment options, social service and program, in addition to other resources that can help. It can also provide parents and children connection into a community of support from other experiencing similar circumstances.


When teens with ASD are surrounded by family, parents, and loved ones who are knowledgeable about ASD, growth can begin. When parents become effective advocates for their teen’s educational, social, and therapeutic plans, it can make all the difference.

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