Jacob was diagnosed on the autism spectrum when he was 4 years old. His parents had started him in applied behavioral analysis therapy. occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy at the time of his diagnosis and, by all accounts from his parents, had done very well up until the point they came to see me. Jacob was 14 and had begun high school. He had an individualized educational plan (IEP) in place and was mostly in inclusion classrooms, being pulled into special education classes, a few times a week. He was well loved by many of his peers and got along very well with his teachers.
However, over the past few months, Jacob had been experiencing more behavioral problems than normal. He would get extremely emotional, sometimes angry, sometimes tearful, when things didn’t go his way. His hand flapping had increased in frequency and intensity and he was having trouble sleeping through the night. He’d also been caught lying to his mom on four different occasions, which was definitely out of character for him.
As children move into their teen years and puberty, behavioral disturbances are common. This is also true for kids on the autism spectrum. Hormonal fluctuations and changes had undoubtedly contributed to Jacob’s recent behavioral issues and we were able to use small doses of medication to help improve his impulse control and emotional regulation. This allowed Jacob to continue succeeding at school and decreased stress at home.
While there is no medication that cures autism spectrum disorders, medication and therapy can be incredibly helpful in managing many of the limiting behaviors and issues that arise, especially during adolescence. It is also important to remember that teens with autism can also experience episodes of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues and these need to be treated, just like in any neurotypically developing teen.
Autism Spectrum Facts
- Autism now affects 1 in 54 children.
- Autism effects boys 4 times as frequently as girls.
- Over the last twenty years, research has repeatedly asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.
- Teens with autism are more likely than typically developing peers to be bullied.