Understanding Adolescents with ASD: A Guide for Parents 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that presents unique challenges for adolescents. ASD manifests as difficulties in social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviours. It’s essential to understand that ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning it affects individuals differently, resulting in a wide range of experiences among teens. 

During adolescence, your autistic teen may struggle with recognising, understanding and managing their emotions. They might interpret all negative emotions as anger, have difficulty recognising excitement or label complex emotions as ‘being bored.’ Understanding and interpreting other people’s emotions can also pose as a challenge. They may not notice when someone is confused or upset or misinterpret others’ emotions, leading to social difficulties. 

Helping your teenager understand their emotions is crucial for their emotional well-being. Explaining how thoughts influence feelings can help connect emotions with thoughts and behaviours. It’s also important to normalise the experience of emotions and reassure teenagers that all feelings, whether big or small, are valid and acceptable. 

Managing strong those emotions can be overwhelming for autistic teenagers but they can learn techniques to cope and calm down. However, ASD affects each teen differently and learning to manage emotions requires patience and practice. Some teens with ASD may not perceive themselves as having a disorder and may resist changing their behaviour. They seek acceptance and acknowledgment of their strengths and weaknesses, just like anyone else. 

Being patient, kind and advocating for inclusion are vital when supporting teens with ASD. Understanding the unique needs of adolescents with ASD and advocating for their well-being can positively impact their journey through adolescence. 

PrimaHealth offers exceptional assessments and ongoing care for ASD. If you’d like to discuss any challenges you or your adolescent might be facing, request a call back today. 

Mental health problems can affect various aspects of a teenager’s life, including their academic performance, personal relationships, and overall ability to cope with life’s demands. Fortunately, effective treatments such as psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both can significantly help manage mental health conditions.  

Seeking Professional Help: 

Remember, for adolescent mental health issues, seeking professional help is important. In an emergency, call 999, reach out to your GP, or a clinical psychologist for professional support.  

Helplines like Pieta House (1800 247 247) and Samaritans Ireland (116 123) offer public support nationwide in Ireland.  

Jigsaw are a public adolescent mental healthcare provider in Ireland for less severe cases (primary care), and CAMHS are the public adolescent mental healthcare provider in Ireland for more severe cases (secondary care). However, waiting lists are an ongoing issues for both of these public organisations. Adolescent mental health issues have risen dramatically over recent years. For example, studies suggest that the amount of adolescents experiencing severe anxiety has risen a staggering 300% in the past decade alone. This significant increase has left public services stretched and months long waiting lists are a publicly documented fact for the aforementioned public adolescent services, leaving concerned parents searching for private alternatives. 

Semi-state organisations like MyMind.org offer affordable online options for adolescent mental health support, without waiting lists being as long as the aforementioned services (albeit waiting lists are becoming an issue for these organisations now also). If you are seeking immediate highly qualified private help for your child’s difficulties, request a callback to speak with one of PrimaHealth’s client service professionals about your situation and to discuss the best course of action for your child. 

For more information about the difference between these professionals, or to discuss your childs difficulties, request a callback for a complimentary conversation with one of our professionals.

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SOME OF OUR TEAM

An Occupational Therapist and Phd researcher, Joy has worked in paediatric disability settings, as well as community crisis intervention and inpatient mental health teams.

As a Counsellor and Psychotherapist, with a master’s degree in CBT, Melissa specialises in offering tailored mental health services to meet each client’s unique needs;  fostering a comprehensive and personalised therapeutic experience.

Managing Director of PrimaHealth, with a master’s degree in Applied Psychology from UCC, Danny is one of the team which liaises with parents to offer them empathetic support and guidance; finding the right mental health professional for their child’s particular needs.

Kelly Ann employs evidence-based techniques like CBT and mindfulness in her counselling to address adolescent issues such as anxiety and stress, emphasising strong therapeutic relationships and collaboration with parents for growth and emotional well-being.

Passionate about providing empathetic support, Breda, a psychotherapist with extensive experience, offers evidence-based techniques like CBT, DBT, REBT, and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to help navigate her clients through stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges they may face.

With over twenty years of therapeutic experience with young people and families, Rosaleen specialises in adolescent psychotherapy, holding qualifications including a BA in Applied Social Studies, a Certificate in Addiction Studies and a Diploma in Integrative Counselling & Psychotherapy, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Adolescent Psychotherapy.

Having had years of experience working in Child and Adolescent community mental health teams and inpatient settings as an Occupational Therapist, Fidelma has developed a clinical expertise in using therapeutic approaches to support young adults manage and overcome their difficulties. 

Marianne, an Occupational Therapist, specialises in pediatric and adolescent mental health, providing compassionate therapy focused on fostering self-compassion and safeness. She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise, enhanced by her continuous pursuit of alternative therapy courses and passion for wellness.