Are there boarding schools for Autistic Spectrum Disorder teenagers?
ASD children have very special needs and once diagnosed, it can be a relief for the parents who felt that somehow they did not understand their child or know how to handle them. However, being ASD does not act as immunity for the normal trials and tribulations of adolescence. ASD children grown into teenagers and experience hormonal mood swings like other teenagers, but their special needs can magnify these changes in behavior and an ASD teen acting out is not quite like any other teenager being difficult.
The Autistic spectrum is just that, a range of differing levels of severity of the autistic disorder, but all are characterized by lack of social skills, a tendency towards repetitive behavior, and a fragility of emotion that can lead to extreme meltdowns; terrifying for the onlooker, and emotionally draining for parent and child. Aspergers Syndrome is sometimes classified as being part of the ASD range of neurological disorders, with autism at the severest end of the scale and Aspergers Syndrome at the other end.
It would be simplistic to say that all ASD sufferers behave in a certain way, but there is commonality of behavior, which can worsen in the adolescent years, and be very difficult for the family to manage. The lack of understanding of emotional signals can create huge misunderstandings for the ASD sufferer, exacerbated by their apparent lack of remorse if they inadvertently upset someone. ASD sufferers tend to react very badly to any form of confrontation, become extremely agitated in noisy surroundings and are most likely to have a melt down when subjected to sensory overload.
Parents of ASD teens may find that adolescence exaggerates their child’s difficult behavior, and it is arguable who benefits most from a teens’ stay at a therapeutic boarding school for Autistic, and/or Aspergers teens; the parent or the teenager. Certainly parents of ASD teens deserve a respite break on occasions, and where there are other family members, they too could gain from some time away from daily ASD routines. The ASD teenager themselves may be finding adolescence a step too far to manage, despite their rituals and protective family environment. Therapists trained in ASD management are also emotionally one step removed from the teen and able to distinguish between “normal” ASD behavior and additional teenager struggles.
If you have a teen who is an ASD sufferer, then give yourself, your family, and your teenager, a breathing space occasionally. Look at the teen boarding schools that specialize in the care of Autistic teenagers, or those with Aspergers, and accept that wanting some time out from this stressful parenting job, is not an admission of failure. Rather, it is a healthy acknowledgement of your limitations. Sometimes, a therapeutic boarding school is therapy for the whole family, and often they can give you helpful advice on how to better manage your teenager when they return.
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