Middle and High School
During middle and high school years, instruction will begin to address such practical matters as work, community living, and recreational activities. This should include work experience, using public transportation, and learning skills that will be important in community living. All through your child's school years, you will want to be an active participant in his or her education program. Collaboration between parents and educators is essential in evaluating your child's progress.
Adolescence is a time of stress and confusion; and it is no less so for teenagers with autism. Like all children, they need help in dealing with their budding sexuality. While some behaviors improve during the teenage years, some get worse. Increased autistic or aggressive behavior may be one way some teens express their newfound tension and confusion.
The teenage years are also a time when children become more socially sensitive. At the age that most teenagers are concerned with acne, popularity, grades, and dates, teens with autism may become painfully aware that they are different from their peers. They may notice that they lack friends. And unlike their schoolmates, they aren't dating or planning for a career. For some, the sadness that comes with such realization motivates them to learn new behaviors and acquire better social skills.
(Click Autism Education for more information about the educational needs of children with autism.)
Treating autism can also involve medications to treat specific symptoms. For example, healthcare providers often prescribe an antidepressant medication to handle symptoms of anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Antipsychotic medications are used to treat severe behavioral problems. Seizures can be treated with one or more of the anticonvulsant drugs.
Stimulant drugs, such as those used for children with attention deficit disorder (ADD), are sometimes used effectively to help decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity.