ASD Tip of the Month

Raising and educating adolescents with ASD and other disabilities offers many joys and gifts. They can be affectionate, inquisitive, fun, and loving. But, adolescents with ASD and other disabilities can also face additional challenges associated with puberty as compared to their typically developing peers. They may face challenges including fewer friends, fewer opportunities for friendships and lower participation in social and recreational activities. The Tips of the Month for 2021-2022 will help support the social and emotional well-being of adolescents with ASD and other disabilities.

The OCALI Lending Library has many resources to support adolescents on these various topics. Here are a few to explore:

  • Taking Care of Myself: A Hygiene, Puberty & Personal Curriculum for Young People by Wrobel, M.
  • What's Happening to Tom?: A Book About Puberty for Boys and Young Men with Autism and Related Conditions by Reynolds, Kate E.
  • What's Happening to Ellie?: A Book About Puberty for Girls and Young Women with Autism and Related Conditions by Reynolds, Kate E.
  • Autism, Asperger's, and Sexuality: Puberty and Beyond by Newport, J., & Newport, M.
  • Lucky Dogs, Lost Hats, and Dating Don'ts: Hi-Lo Stories about Real Life by Fish, Thomas R.
  • The Facts of Life....and More: Sexuality and Intimacy for People with Intellectual Disabilities by Walker-Hirsch, L., ed.

Additional materials available in the OCALI Lending Library.

Check out these additional OCALI resources to learn more about supporting adolescence.


Making and Keeping Friends

Adolescents with ASD and other disabilities have shared through writings and social media posts that they want to make friends. They may want to engage in conversation, share their interests, and enjoy being in the community with peers. But they may also feel isolated and have a difficult time making or keeping friends. They may have trouble with nonverbal cues such as body language signals or subtle meanings in everyday language. The following tips can help adolescents with special needs maintain friendship:

  • Teach the individual how to smile when encountering others. A smile can be a way to invite interactions.
  • Provide instruction on how to greet peers. Use visual supports if needed.
  • Practice simple back and forth conversation. Start with comments on the weather, classroom activities, complimenting others and making positive statements. Move on to age-appropriate topics/subjects.
  • Find common interests/activities that can support friendship.
  • Take photos of peers who interact with the individual. This will reinforce those peers who have taken an interest in the individual.
  • Encourage video chats with peers. This is a way for the individual to see and react to a peer using a common and popular way to communicate.

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