Starting early in our childhood, we go through several transitions. For most people, the transition into adolescence is hard. Our minds and bodies are going through all kinds of changes—puberty, hormones, identity, and attitudes—and it can be difficult to understand these changes and how to cope with them.
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Let’s Learn More About This Stage in Life
During this transition, teens may struggle with school, friends, or self-esteem. For individuals with autism, this transition can be even more strenuous since many individuals with autism already struggle with transitions, both big and small. This can affect making and keeping friendships and social interactions. On top of that, many soon-to-be or new adolescents are starting a new school—moving from elementary school into middle school.
That alone can be nerve-wracking but consider all the additional changes that come with going to middle school. Going from having just one teacher and one classroom to now transitioning between multiple teachers and multiple classrooms. It is a lot to take in and a lot to learn. Just think back to when you were in middle school and what that transition was like, having to navigate noisy and crowded hallways and learning a whole new system in school.
How to Help Teenagers Through Adolescence
Everyone moves into puberty at a different rate. You can go over the changes that might happen to their bodies and emotions in a way that is easy to understand. We also want to normalize what is taking place. These changes happen to almost everyone. Look for resources that can help, like books.
Communication about Expectations
Since many adolescents are transitioning into middle school, talk about the new school, including teachers, classrooms, the schedule, changing rooms, hallways, and the cafeteria. Knowing what to expect with pictures (if possible) can go a long way. You can make a social story and schedule an individual tour or tour in a smaller group since orientation tends to have a lot of students.
Exploring Coping Mechanisms
Teach and practice a variety of coping mechanisms. What might work for one person or situation may not always work for everyone else. Get feedback from the individual about what works. You can also observe the individual when trying out the coping mechanism for signs that it’s effective. For example, check to see if they appear more relaxed. Deep breathing, counting, or taking a quick walk are some options to try.
Look for tools that can help with coping. Check out some of these options:
ABA Therapy and Support
Putting a plan in place to help with this transition is the key. With ABA therapy, we can do just that—we can observe and analyze the behaviors and the challenges with transitions and develop a treatment plan to help better manage these changes. Reach out to us today to talk more about transitions and how we can help.