Autism during Puberty - what you need to know

Does autism get worse during puberty?

So I have read many “what to expect” and “how to help your autistic teen” articles and let me tell you – NOTHING can prepare you for the teenage years.

The physical and hormonal changes in my child has been mindblowing.  Take typical teenage rebellion and put it on steroids. 

At times it feels to me like my daughter’s autism is getting worse…  her moods are all over the place and everything is a fight. 

Does autism get worse during puberty?

Research is very limited when it comes to autism and puberty.  Experts claim that whilst behaviour can improve dramatically during primary school years, it often deteriorates with the physical changes that come with adolescence and this I can fully agree with.

Madison was a difficult infant and toddler up to the age of about 7 years after which she settled completely.  Her general mood was better and she was a much happier child.  Maybe it was because I got to understand her and accept her needs. 

Transitions became easier, change become something she was more comfortable with and the learning was incredible.  For 6 years we saw her blossom.  Then she turned 13 a little over a year ago and the teenage years hit us all by surprise.

Puberty has caused chaos in Madison’s once-predictable world.  She struggles to express herself appropriately and she goes from happy to sad in 2 seconds.  Her sleep is pretty much back to new born status and she gets up at all hours to wander around the house.

YES!  I would have to say that autism definitely becomes more challenging in the teenage years.  So far we have been on the autism-teen journey for a little over a year and have wrestled with many new challenges.  The struggle is real but knowing about autism, understanding my child, her diagnosis and being there for her every step of the way seems to help us all move forward.

Ilse Kilian-Ross
ilse@amazingk.co.za

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, ABA, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.