Raising Teen/tween girls on the spectrum

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wonderwomom
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18 Sep 2017, 11:00 am

I am new to the forums and would love to hear some positive, concrete, constructive experience with raising teen/tween girls on the spectrum. I have two, one Aspie one with Verbal HFA. I must admit we have done really well until the hormones hit. Both girls had minimal meltdowns as children, were flexible, and somewhat social.

My husband and I would count our blessings that they did not seem to be as miserable as some of their friends with AS. We watched our friends struggle to raise their non-verbal, more reactive(more extensive sensory issues), children and felt we had dodged a bullet. We constantly were reminded of how much more difficult it could be for the girls.

Well, you never can tell. The more I learn about my girls, the more I realize that I don't know. We were told early on that they would grow out of their diagnosis. I think that was one of the most damaging things. It gave us the idea that they were diseased but curable. It did not prepare us for the reality of various stages of life, the potential for set backs, and the idea that having their own time table was fine. It certainly did not help me see them as "different not less." Something that does help: We are big fans of Tianna Marshall's books, "I am Aspien Girl", and "I am Aspien Woman". So beautiful and positive.

So now I really feel the acute stress that many of our friends have experienced all along. We have daily meltdowns, self injury, suicidal ideation, elopement, academic setbacks, and a whole lot of black and white thinking, negativity, and emotional sensory overload. I ping pong back and forth trying to manage. These girls scare the ____ out of me on a daily basis. Did I mention kissing boys?! ! 8O :lol: They are my precious privilege, and I often feel so inadequate.

So please, I am open to positive hopeful feedback. I too struggle with emotional regulation, anxiety, and sensory issues etc. I know I need to take better care of myself if I am going to help them.



Lumi
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18 Sep 2017, 8:03 pm

Anything specific? I don't have children, but may offer my input if you'd like.


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ASDMommyASDKid
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18 Sep 2017, 8:38 pm

It may be other things than just hormones. The social requirements go up and up and up as they age and the kids that they are surrounded by on a daily basis are jockeying for social position constantly. One of the ways, kids do that, as I am sure you know is by putting other kids down and picking on them. So, there may be more going on then just their hormones.

In addition academic requirements tend to require a lot of executive functioning skills. English lit requires theory of mind understanding to understand characters, etc.

How communicative are they about their day? Maybe they need more scaffolding and perhaps protective supervision, although the school is unlikely to give them that, even if it is what they need.

I have a son not a daughter (but I was a teen girl)



misstippy
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21 Sep 2017, 3:22 pm

We have not gotten to puberty yet, so I may be speaking totally out of my rear end here. My kids are 8 and 11. My daughter is the younger one and much more sensitive than her brother. BUT, both of them have more meltdowns and problems when their general anxiety is up. So, we have to address that. Both of them are taking anti anxiety medications... both have done are are doing therapy to address the anxiety. And doing these things have made a huge difference. WE've had an uptick in meltdowns recently because of some big life changes in our family, but creating space to deal with sensory issues.. access to hammock swing or private space to decompress and making sure we have enough down time to recharge... AND staying on/increasing anxiety medication has helped a lot.

I hope you figure it out. I'm very concerned about puberty and my kids... we've dodged a lot of bullets in terms of behaviors... but, during stressful times, they do crop back up.



flowermom
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22 Sep 2017, 1:12 pm

Hi wonderwomom (love that name by the way!),

I'm the mom to a 16 year old daughter with AS and I can say the tween/teen years are tough. We also were told how "mild" our daughter was and for many years she was easy, had nice friends, flew under the radar, etc. When things started to get more challenging it was like I had to go back and relearn about AS and that really did help me because it reminded me that it would be something my daughter would deal with in one way or another for her whole life - she wasn't going to "grow out of it".

Something that has helped us is allowing my daughter to make her own choices and take ownership of who she is in the world. She knows her diagnosis and the positives and negatives that come with it. So when she makes a choice - like to not go to a football game or school dance because it's too loud, too crazy or whatever, my husband and I just say "okay". There's a part of us that feels sad she doesn't want to do these things because they were a fun part of our high school lives, but she's not us and it's her choice. Another recent example is driving - she doesn't like it and says it makes her too anxious. We were surprised because we both remembered the glee we felt when we got our licenses and that freedom. But we respect the fact that she doesn't feel ready to drive and so we are just letting her tell us when/if she wants to go back to trying.

So I guess what I'm saying is love and support your daughters in their journey of figuring out who they are, what works for them, etc. Let go of what you remember you did or felt at their age because they are dealing with different issues.

Another thing - listen without judgment. My daughter confides in me a lot and has expressed how nice it is to just be able to tell me things, not even to get advice from me, but just to be able to tell someone how she feels. Let them decide how to handle issues that come up. You don't have to solve any problems- of course be there to help if asked, but also be prepared to step back and let them struggle and figure things out for themselves.

I hope some of this helped a bit. The tween/teen years are difficult for most kids. You sound like a great mom! Things will calm down and smooth out over time. All the best to you and your family! :)



eikonabridge
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23 Sep 2017, 9:05 am

flowermom wrote:
Another recent example is driving - she doesn't like it and says it makes her too anxious. We were surprised because we both remembered the glee we felt when we got our licenses and that freedom. But we respect the fact that she doesn't feel ready to drive and so we are just letting her tell us when/if she wants to go back to trying.

That is a general trend, though. Take a look at:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/neither-drinking-nor-driving-more-teens-are-putting-off-traditional-markers-of-adulthood/2017/09/18/b46027a0-93f1-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html

So teenagers are postponing drinking, driving, dating and working. In turn, they worry more on acquiring skills and beefing up their résumés. Today's kids not only are looking at a postgraduate education, but even are taking into account the job internships that they need to go through, before starting to get a real job out there. In this context, dating in high school seems kind of pointless... or drinking, or driving earlier, or work in McDonalds or babysitting to make a few bucks. Notice these are not parents' opinions. These opinions are coming straight from today's teenagers themselves.

Image

This is combined with an increasing emphasis on STEM education. See e.g.:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2017-08-17/op-ed-is-the-investment-in-stem-education-paying-off

The truth is, without realizing it, the entire world is trending towards becoming "more autistic." To me, Mother Nature has planned for all this to happen, and has encoded this feature into our collective DNAs a long time ago... about 10,000 years ago. The most obvious correlator to autism is parental age. That is not an accident.

This also just came out recently:
http://www.newsweek.com/girls-autism-masculine-features-extreme-male-brain-theory-666022

As far as for the "masculine" features, I think that's highly misleading. Female scientists have the easiest time finding soulmates... attractiveness has never been an issue. I don't think their features are "masculine," but rather, their looks are meant to command respect. So I took at look at Madame Curie's picture, and you've got to admit that her forehead is indeed wider:
Image

If we take into account that one of the contributions of Madame Curie was field X-ray hospitals during World War I, you then can tie it all together to what I have said before in:

http://www.eikonabridge.com/Tomatoes.pdf

Yeap, autism was encoded into our species a long time ago. With the arrival of the "Technological Singularity," today is truly turning into the "coming age" for the autistic people to shine.

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As for the OP, here are two links that I have posted many times in the forum:

http://www.eikonabridge.com/fun_and_facts.pdf
http://www.eikonabridge.com/anxiety.pdf


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