Teen Years and Beyond

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I have had many parents and educators requesting resources and tips for teens and young adults. I agree it is hard to find information and resources for how to guide and support this age group. I am thrilled to find a resource whose aim is “to increase the odds that your child grows into an adult with a rewarding, meaningful life” (xiii). Dr Temple Grandin and Dr Debra Moore

The Loving Push by Dr Temple Grandin and Dr Debra Moore is a must read.

What I enjoyed about the The Loving Push is that it was written using a mixture of personal and professionally researched based ideas. It weaves together the stories of several young people who are on the autism spectrum and their parents. The accounts describe overcoming and working through their challenges to become increasingly capable of independent living. It includes the setbacks, disappointments and dark moments as well as successes and advancements.

The best part of this book is the HOPE and ideas it gives, through telling inspiring, real stories.

I love the honesty in this book and I agree with the authors that we all have to remember “few of us achieve goals via a straight, smooth path. We encounter unexpected and frustrating obstacles along the way.” (Pg 46)

There are hundreds of great tips and ideas in this book; in fact I have had great difficulty selecting my 10 Top Tips (every page seems to have a new gem).

Sue Larkey’s Top 10 Tips to Increasing Success for Teens and Adults

  1. Find a mentor. The one shared trait in every story is that each person was encouraged and ‘stretched’ just outside of their comfort zone by at least one adult in their life, which helped keep them from falling into “chronic learned helplessness”. (Pg 26). This can be parent, teacher, neighbour, employer or extended family. The mentor needs to be a “positive role model, a source of advice or information, and someone who ‘expects’ effort and accountability.” (Pg 33).
  2. Be your kid’s coach or find one for them. A coach is different to a mentor as they are actually teaching them concepts. (Pg 139 and 140 give some good strategies about how to find a coach and what to look for.)
  1. Adults (parents and mentors) must take the lead or it will not just happen (this is everything from learning independent living skills to a career). Chapter 4 gives many examples of why the ASD teen can get ‘stuck’ and you may need to assist them to break out of chronic anxiety and a ‘don’t care’ attitude.
  2. Help to set realistic goals and provide support to figure out how to achieve those goals (Pg 45). This is where the mentor can play an important role sharing their own experiences and guide them to set their own goals. Spell out goals and connect the dots. It may be obvious to you, but it probably won’t even occur to them (Pg 45). For example, they may not be interested in organising a visit to Vocational Education, but if you get a course catalogue, walk the campus, go to the bookshop, organise a meeting with Disability Office or key staff they can start to see what is available and how the course can lead to something of interest to them.
  3. Start small – slowly introduce new ideas and experiences.
  4. Give them clear start dates and deadlines to complete each step. Help them understand the consequences of not doing it by the deadline. For example, this can be to enroll in singing lessons or cook dinner – if you don’t enroll in the singing class you will need to wait another six months for the next course. (Pg 73 has some great examples of natural consequences).
  5. Start early and build up skills that will endure – this includes everything from social skills, self-regulation, setting goals, friendships, life skills.
  6. Just do it. “To get Autistic kids to progress, they must DO things, not just talk about them” (Pg 73). They don’t have to love it – they just have to do it! This can include exercise, work, independent living skills, study, etc.
  7. Magic can happen when you introduce them to new things. Stretch them out of their comfort zones.
  8. Stay strong – don’t let your child’s fears and setbacks detract from continuing to plan and take action. For example, if they get fired from their job that is okay lots of people get fired. Allow them a few days to process and then get in to action to move forward. They recommend this should include calling employer to find out why they were fired and what skills they need to work on.

Temple Grandin Movie

Temple Grandin is an amazing woman with autism and this movie on her life. For those of us involved in some way with autism this movie is truly inspirational. Make sure you have tissues on hand!
What makes this movie a MUST SEE?

The insights into how she perceives the world is fantastic. Particularly her sensory needs

  •  Temple is SO inspirational.
  •  Her mother’s courage to never give up, even when she was told to institutionalise her.
  •  Her wonderful extended family, including an aunty who really understood Temple. I love the way she put a label on her bedroom door saying ‘Temple’.
  •  Great quote “She’s different not less”.
  •  The way her mother explains “social” situations (Christmas party, Funeral etc
  •  The importance of a mentor (in her case teacher) that captured her passions and understood how to engage her in learning.

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