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Month: July 2023

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria: Overwhelming Feelings and the Connection to ADHD

We love our ADHD here at The Neurospicy Shop. The majority of people in our family have been diagnosed, and we’ve got kiddos in our lives that have it too. While there are some minor challenges, ADHD also gives us the ability to think differently than other people, solve problems in unique ways, and we have a ton of fun along the way. But we can also get our feelings hurt a little easier sometimes. Rejection sensitive dysphoria is a topic that has gained popularity lately, and so far there is little research about rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) and who experiences it. But, RSD does seem to be most common in people who also have ADHD.

Rejection sensitive dysphoria is characterized by intense emotional sensitivity and fear of rejection or criticism. Since emotional regulation can be more challenging for people with ADHD, these intense feelings have the potential to spiral out of control. Understanding RSD and learning strategies to navigate these emotions, though, can help to manage these associated feelings. Whether you have ADHD or care for someone who does, understanding RSD can be a powerful tool in promoting emotional well-being.

Understanding Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

RSD refers to an extreme emotional response triggered by perceived or actual rejection, criticism, or failure. It often manifests as intense feelings of sadness, shame, anger, or anxiety, and from the outside, expressions of these emotions (crying, lashing out, etc) might seem like proportionately big reactions to the situation. It’s important to remember, though, that these feelings can be much more intense and distressing for someone with RSD than they would be for someone else. 

Triggers vary from person to person, but common ones include situations where someone might feel criticized, left out, or ignored. The criticism, exclusion, or disapproval that someone with RSD perceives might even be a misunderstanding. The fear of potential rejection or criticism can generate overwhelming anxiety and distress, sometimes becoming so intense that individuals may go to great lengths to avoid situations that might trigger RSD.

The Connection Between ADHD and RSD

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by symptoms like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Both kids and adults with ADHD often struggle with emotional regulation and may experience difficulties in social interactions. RSD is closely related to ADHD due to overlapping neurobiological factors and common emotional dysregulation challenges.

Rejection sensitive dysphoria can exacerbate the already existing emotional challenges associated with ADHD. The situations that can feel like rejection to someone with RSD are pretty common in everyday life. A few examples:

  • Your best friend makes a new friend and has less time to hang out with you.
  • A teacher doesn’t call on you in class, but seems to always call on the boy next to you.
  • The promotion you applied for went to someone else.
  • Your sister forgot to tell you her big news, and you found out through the grapevine.
  • You find out that 3 of your friends have a group chat without you.

When it feels like rejection is hiding behind every corner, and that rejection leads to massive feelings of shame and anxiety, it’s easy to see why someone might develop self esteem issues and begin avoiding certain situations.

Recognizing and Coping with RSD

Identifying the signs and symptoms of RSD is crucial for managing its impact on your life and/or the life of your loved one. Some common signs include heightened emotional sensitivity, intense fear of criticism, and avoiding situations that might trigger rejection. Building self-awareness and understanding personal triggers can help you to find effective coping strategies. 

Developing coping mechanisms and self-soothing techniques can be immensely helpful in managing RSD. A few things that might help: 

  1. Practicing mindfulness
  2. Deep breathing exercises
  3. Creative outlets
  4. Relaxation and self-care.

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a healthy lifestyle can also contribute to emotional well-being. (I mean, who among us isn’t more sensitive when we’re sleep deprived or hangry?) 

A good counselor, therapist, or psychologist can also help someone with ADHD and RSD to identify coping strategies that are likely to work for them. And, whether those do or don’t work, that good counselor can also help to iterate and find new strategies to try until something clicks. 

Embrace Self-Acceptance

Understanding rejection sensitive dysphoria and its connection with ADHD can shed light on personal experiences. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with you! If you or someone you know has been experiencing intense emotions when faced with perceived rejection, it’s not a flaw – it’s a condition that you can learn to manage. 

By embracing self-acceptance, practicing self-care, and finding effective coping strategies, you can grow beyond any feelings that might have previously held you back.

adhd, Social & Emotional

Navigating PDA and Autism: Understanding Demand Avoidance

What is Pathological Demand Avoidance? 

The definition of pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is still debated within the medical community. Some see it as a profile of autism – a certain type of ASD that some people have – while others see it as a symptom that some autistic people experience. We’re neither doctors nor researchers, so we won’t claim to have the answers to that discussion. We do know, that demand avoidance is a shared experience among some autistic people, so that’s how we’ll describe it here: as a shared experience. 

In this article we’ll delve into what PDA looks like from the outside and how it feels for those who experience it. Whether you have autism or you are caring for someone else on the spectrum, we aim to provide valuable insights and tips to navigate demand avoidance with understanding and empathy.

Experiencing PDA: Finding Balance and Accomplishing Daily Tasks

In the simplest terms, Pathological Demand Avoidance is what happens when someone knows there is something that needs to be done, knows there is a deadline approaching, and instead of doing it they freeze and can’t get themselves to do it, or otherwise avoid what needs to be done by becoming very busy with other tasks that feel less overwhelming. Experiencing PDA can be overwhelming and is often fraught with anxiety and shame. If a teenager can’t seem to “just make themselves” do their homework, their parents and teachers might tell them that it’s their fault, they aren’t trying hard enough, or even tell them that they aren’t smart. None of these things are true! PDA is a very real experience, and it has nothing to do with ambition, intelligence, or ability. 

It often leads to a strong aversion to tasks that have obligations and expectations associated with them. In a moment when an autistic person is feeling trapped or overwhelmed by these demands, self-care can help them to regulate. They shouldn’t try to force themselves to “do the thing” when they are in a panicked state, but instead focus on calming strategies. Some people might find solace in sensory activities, like laying under a weighted blanket, while others might prefer physical activity or visual stimulation. They can return to the task later, when they are feeling emotionally regulated. 

Communication and Self-Advocacy

If someone on the spectrum is in the middle of a conversation and walks out of the room to calm themselves down, the other person might (understandably) be pretty confused. Expressing their needs and boundaries can help an autistic person to get their needs met while avoiding misunderstandings. That said, if the person is overwhelmed, they might have a hard time expressing their needs verbally. A signaling system can help. This can involve using visual cues, like a colored card or a reversible stuffy with a smile on one side and a frown on the other, to indicate when they need to regroup and recharge. Remember, it’s always okay to ask for support and take breaks when necessary.

In social situations, practicing self-advocacy can be empowering for people with autism. Communicating their preferences, such as the need for quiet spaces or clear instructions, can help friends, family, and even teachers, bosses, and coworkers support them. Educating others about PDA can foster empathy and understanding, creating a more supportive environment.

Navigating PDA in Children and Teenagers: Supporting Parents in Handling Demand Avoidance

Parents of children and teenagers with autism often face the unique challenge of navigating demand avoidance while trying to maintain a supportive, accountable environment. It’s essential to strike a balance between understanding and accountability. Here are some tips for parents to consider:

Foster open communication 

Create a safe space for your child to express their feelings and concerns without judgment. Remember that your reactions to their words hold immense weight in these moments! Actively listen to their experiences, frustrations, and ideas for what might be helpful. Approach these conversations with a curiosity mindset, and know your job is to understand and empathize with them here. 

Collaborate on strategies 

Work together with your child to develop coping strategies that suit their individual needs. Ask them what they think would help, and what they need from you that they aren’t getting right now. That can be a very scary conversation as a parent, but if you have the courage to ask with an open mind, your relationship with your child will grow much stronger over time. The strategies that you both come up with at first might not be the ones that work best, but trying things and re-evaluating on a regular basis shows your child that you’re both on the same team. 

Establish routines and predictability

While you’re having that open conversation about what might help your child, we suggest asking them if they would like their home life to be more predictable. If so, adding structure can help to reduce their anxiety, since they know what to expect. Visual schedules or timers might help your child anticipate and prepare for transitions and upcoming tasks.

Break tasks into smaller steps 

Sometimes a big task, like “clean your room,” might feel overwhelming. Your child might not know where to start. Breaking down tasks into manageable steps can make them more manageable. That might look like, “put all your dirty clothes into the hamper, then come back and I’ll tell you what’s next.” Celebrate small achievements along the way to motivate your child and build their confidence, if they indicate that they appreciate the positive attention. 

Practice flexibility

Understand that demand avoidance can fluctuate. If you and your child can come up with a few ideas for them to choose from, you’ll have options that you can try based on their mood or what kind of day they’ve had so far. Be flexible and adapt strategies as needed, recognizing that what works one day may not work the next.

Seek professional support 

Reach out to professionals specializing in autism and demand avoidance for guidance. There may be therapies that your child can benefit from, or you might find that parent coaching for you is most helpful. Professionals can provide personalized strategies and support tailored to your child’s needs.

Be aware of your own emotions

Everyone gets frustrated sometimes! But, if your frustration leads to an explosive reaction toward the child, you’ll also need to do some work to repair that relationship. If you keep an eye on your own feelings and take space before exploding, everyone will be better off in the end. 

Remember, supporting your child through demand avoidance requires patience, understanding, and empathy. Celebrate their strengths and accomplishments while providing the necessary support and accommodations. By creating a nurturing and accepting environment, you can help your child thrive while managing demand avoidance challenges.

Compassion, Understanding, and PDA

Navigating demand avoidance in autism requires an understanding, collaborative approach. Remember, every individual with autism is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s crucial to listen, learn, and adapt our approaches to meet the specific needs of those we support. Together, we can build a more inclusive and empathetic society that celebrates the strengths and accomplishments of individuals with autism.


Our Neurospicy Story

My son was diagnosed with ADHD halfway through the sixth grade. He struggled with the transition out of elementary school, with more classes, teachers, homework, and a greater need to organize and prioritize. Despite our efforts to help him, he was failing most of his classes.

The principal called an emergency meeting with me, his mom, his teachers, the counselor, paraprofessionals, and every other adult who played a role in his life—and chastised him in front of us for twenty minutes. He asked our son if he was “smart enough” to be in middle school and told him he had the worst grades in the entire school.

It was soul-crushing to witness. I realized that the environments my son spends his time in – school, sports, group activities, and other organized systems – are not designed to accommodate the challenges he faces with ADHD. As he struggles to perform in a system that isn’t designed for his brain, he endures constant reminders that he’s not good enough.

Psychiatrist and author William W. Dodson, MD, estimates that by age 12, children with ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages from parents, teachers, and other adults than their peers who do not have ADHD. So unsurprisingly, kids with ADHD are more than four times more likely to suffer from depression, and more than five times as likely to attempt suicide. The negative perception about neurodivergent people is everywhere. If you search Google Images for “ADHD kids stock photography,” you won’t see a smiling child anywhere on the first page of results. Instead, you’ll see sad pictures of unhappy kids who are not learning in class, misbehaving, or driving their parents crazy.

This is not an accurate depiction of adolescent ADHD. There is no scientifically accepted connection between ADHD and intelligence. But there are links between people with ADHD and a unique ability to solve problems and ideas based on broad and disparate information. Why isn’t our perception of people with ADHD more aligned with this? The current narrative doesn’t describe the intelligence or potential of ADHD kids or accurately depict their struggles.

It’s time for us to be better.

My partner and I built The Neurospicy Shop, a website that sees neurodivergence from a positive place. It’s full of education, resources, products, and tons of helpful content by and for people with autism and ADHD. We portray these conditions as they are: a set of conditions that do not define us or limit our capacity but make us some of the best analysts, problem solvers, thinkers, artists, and inventors in the world.

Our website has zero stock imagery of sad kids and angry parents. You’ll see a positive community full of help, encouragement, and a focus on everything that’s right with neurodivergent people. Please join us as we change the narrative around ADHD and autism. If you don’t know about these conditions, we have resources to teach you. If you are autistic or have ADHD and need tools and resources, we have stuff for you (and soon, we’ll have a box subscription, too!) We’re just getting started, and we’re eager for your feedback on our content, products, and design. Let us know what you think! Thanks for reading.


Double Your Productivity: Unleash the Power of Body Doubling for ADHD

Executive Function & ADHD

Living with ADHD has plenty of good things that we love, but it also means sometimes grappling with executive dysfunction. This can interfere with home- and self-care tasks that we all need to complete on a daily basis. The fluctuations in dopamine levels affect cognitive processes like attention, planning, and organization, which can make it difficult to start chores. This executive function deficit can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed and frustrated about their obligations.

What is body doubling?

Incorporating body doubling into your ADHD toolkit can be a game-changer. This strategy involves a friend, family member, acquaintance, or stranger you met on the street (just kidding!) keep you company while you handle the tasks that might be challenging for you. Having a friend in the room while you work can help you stay focused, engaged, and motivated to knock out your to-do list. It’s helpful to have someone to talk to and joke with, and hopefully this person can point it out if you get off-track. They definitely don’t need to do your work for you or even help – just hanging out while you work is enough to make a big impact.

Harnessing the Power of Body Doubling

What can body doubling help with?

Everyone is different, so you might find that body doubling is more helpful with some types of work than others. We’ve put together a list of things that we’ve seen body doubling help with:

  • Cleaning and organizing
  • Homework
  • Budgeting and paying bills
  • Writing reports or essays
  • Exercise
  • Working from home
  • Studying for exams
  • Preparing presentations
  • Reading
  • Creative hobbies
  • Home improvement projects

Suggesting Body Doubling to Someone Else with ADHD

For parents, caregivers, and other adults charged with helping a kid with ADHD, navigating a child’s executive dysfunction can be a challenge. Being understanding about the way their brain works, while still trying to teach them to be accountable, is a fine line to walk. Body doubling is one tool that can help to empower the kiddo to still do their chores or homework while keeping them on-track and focused.

A few tips for suggesting and implementing body doubling with a child or teenager:

Open Communication

Have an open and honest conversation with them about their challenges. Explain body doubling, why you think it might help, and ask if it’s something they would like to try.

Set Clear Expectations

Define the tasks that you’ll use body doubling for and be clear about the outcomes you’re hoping to see. Establish boundaries together, like what types of work the body double can/will help with, how often the child can take breaks, etc.

Identify Body Doubling Partners

If you live in the same home as the child/teen, then you might be a great option. If you don’t, or even if you do and sometimes have other things you need to do (you know, like a normal person), then talk with them about other people who might be able to help as body doubles. Make sure the body double knows their role, understands what they are/aren’t expected to do, and feels comfortable speaking up if something isn’t working.

Collaborate and Participate

When you can, participate in body doubling sessions alongside the child. This not only shows your support but also strengthens your bond with them and increases accountability.

Celebrate Achievements

Recognize and celebrate the accomplishments! Positive reinforcement can boost motivation and reinforce the effectiveness of this strategy, especially if you can make sure the kiddo knows that you saw how hard they worked.

Try it Out!

Body doubling is a clever life hack for people with ADHD. Experiment with the strategy, adapt it to your specific needs, and witness the positive impact it can have on your ability to stay focused, engaged, and motivated. Remember, everyone’s journey is unique, so explore different approaches and find what works best for you.

adhd, ADHD and Cleaning

A Little Bit of Everything, All of the Time: ADHD Hyperactive Impulsive Type

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects people of all ages. Within the realm of ADHD, there are different subtypes, and one of them is the Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD. In this article, we will explore this type, understand its signs and symptoms, and provide guidance on what to do next.

Understanding Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD

Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD was named for its distinguishing features. Unlike the other types, people with this one tend not to experience challenges with inattention. When you think of the words “hyperactive” and “impulsive,” some common stereotypes might come to mind. But, it’s important to keep an open mind about these symptoms, because in many cases they can look and feel different than many people would expect.

Understanding Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: Symptoms

External Expressions: The Telltale Signs

People with Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD may find it difficult to restrain themselves from talking excessively and frequently interrupting others. Restlessness is a common feature, leading to trouble sitting still or remaining in one place for an extended period. It’s common for both kids and adults to fidget or find other ways to keep their body moving, such as tapping their feet or hands. Kids with this type may display disruptive behaviors, like making noises or grabbing toys and objects from others. As children with ADHD grow into adults, they might learn to channel their hyperactivity into “socially acceptable” movements – more on this later in the article.

Internal Feelings: I Want it All and I Want it Now

There’s another layer to the experience of Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD, beyond what someone from the outside might see. Internally, someone with this type might feel like they are being run by a motor, constantly driven by some force that makes it difficult to slow down or relax. They might also lack patience, and/or they might hate tasks that involve waiting in line. The “impulsive” part of the name might feel like intense emotions that drive this person to act without thinking. These impulsive actions can offer temporary relief but often result in later regret or negative consequences.

Recognizing the Signs

It’s important to understand that while everyone feels annoyed at waiting in line sometimes, or has a hard time controlling their impulses once in a while, for someone with ADHD these feelings and behaviors persist over time. They can impact daily functioning, relationships, school, and work.

How do Symptoms Appear Differently in Adults vs Children?

While the core symptoms of Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD are consistent across age groups, there are some variations in how these symptoms manifest in adults and children. In kids, hyperactivity is often more obvious, and a grown-up might notice their excessive movement and restlessness. Adults, on the other hand, might have learned what is socially acceptable in different situations. They might tap their leg under a table, or get up to stretch frequently during meetings.

Kelly, one the people behind the scenes here at The Neurospicy Shop, used to attend meetings that she found pretty boring. It was common for people to stand at those meetings, so she started to see how long she could balance on one foot. Her bosses didn’t seem to notice, so it was a safe way to manage her restlessness. She’s still pretty good at it now.

Impulsivity may look differently between children and adults, too. Children can be more prone to impulsive actions without considering the consequences, while adults may struggle with impulsive decisions or risk-taking behavior.

Seeking Professional Evaluation

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD, a proper evaluation and diagnosis can help. The right medical professional will help you to understand the challenges you/your loved one is experiencing, and how they are not your fault. They’ll also help to determine the right treatment strategy. The assessment process typically involves interviews, questionnaires, and observations by a well-qualified psychiatrist or similar doctor.

Treatment Options and Support

Managing Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD will be different for each person. Medication, behavioral therapies, and individualized support plans can each help on their own, or in combination with each other.

Behavioral therapies can teach coping strategies and skills so people with ADHD can manage their symptoms effectively. When a child has ADHD, parent training programs can also help their parents in developing strategies to support the kiddo’s needs and create a structured and supportive environment.

Individualized support plans and accommodations at school and work can help to empower people with ADHD to be successful. These plans may include preferential seating, extended time for tasks or exams, frequent breaks, and/or the use of assistive technologies. Creating an environment that promotes understanding, flexibility, and support can significantly contribute to the success and well-being of individuals with ADHD.

Keep Learning!

In conclusion, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD is a distinct subtype within the ADHD spectrum. It is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and the absence of significant inattentive traits. If you are experiencing the traits you read about here, or you know someone who’s experiencing these things, know that you’re not alone! The right treatment plan, strategies, and accommodations can be incredibly empowering.

Remember, both kids and adults with ADHD need understanding and support from their families, friends, educators, and communities. Embracing neurodiversity and fostering a supportive environment can help all of us thrive and reach our full potential.

Check out our other content to learn more about ADHD. Stay informed and empowered in your neurospicy journey.


A Roadmap to Recognition: Signs of Autism in Teenagers

If you’re wondering whether a teenager in your life has autism, you’ve come to the right place. If you yourself are a teenager wondering if you have autism, you have also come to the right place! In this article, we’ll cover the signs of autism in teenagers – both what it looks like from the outside, and what it feels like on the inside. We’ll also mention some tips for what to do next if the signs feel like they align with your experiences.


Beyond the Stereotypes

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by repetitive behavior, differences in social functioning, and hypersensitivity to stimuli. It’s important to understand what we’re talking about before we talk about the signs, because a lot of what we hear in the media or in our culture about autism creates a stigma that is not accurate. It’s just a condition, like ADHD or Asthma, and we happen to think that autism is actually a wonderful gift. Support needs also vary widely from person to person within the autism spectrum, and no two autistic people are the same.

Signs of Autism in Teenagers

Social Communication and Interaction

Teenagers with autism often prefer direct verbal communication. They often miss their peers’ nonverbal communication cues, and sarcasm might be confusing for them. (Did they mean what they said, or were they being sarcastic so they meant the opposite of what they said? Why can’t people just always say what they mean?)

It might be difficult to interpret gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Eye contact might feel uncomfortable, and from the outside, they might avoid eye contact entirely or hold eye contact for longer than expected if they’ve been told they need to make eye contact with other people. Reciprocal conversations, where two people take turns talking about themselves and asking questions about each others’ interests, may not come naturally.

Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors

Teenagers with autism sometimes engage in repetitive movements or actions, such as hand-flapping or rocking. These behaviors serve a self-soothing or sensory stimulation role, and are sometimes referred to as “stimming” (from the word stimulating). They might also be most comfortable in predictable routines, and might say they prefer routine because they know what to expect. If their routine is disrupted, they might become distressed or could even panic.

Highly focused interests or fixations on specific topics are common among autistic teenagers. Their intense passions and deep knowledge about certain subjects often surprise others.

Sensory Sensitivities

Teenagers with autism often experience sensory sensitivities, which can manifest as over- or under-sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Certain sounds, textures, or lights may trigger strong reactions or discomfort. They might hate the grocery store lights, or not be able to focus if there’s a faint, distracting sound in the background while they work.

They may become overwhelmed by crowded or noisy environments. Some people actively seek specific sensory experiences, such as spinning or deep pressure, to regulate their sensory input. Deep pressure can come from a family pet or a weighted blanket or stuffed animal.

Executive Functioning Challenges

Executive functioning challenges affect things like organization, time management, planning, problem-solving, and transitioning. Teenagers with autism may struggle with completing tasks, maintaining a clean room, personal hygiene, and adapting to changes or transitions in their routines. They may find it difficult to prioritize tasks, manage their time effectively, and stay organized. These challenges can impact their academic performance and daily functioning.

Some teenagers might experience pathological demand avoidance, or PDA. Tasks that come with obligations or expectations can be particularly overwhelming in these cases, and it’s important to show compassion for yourself (teenager) or your teen (parental figures). For more about pathological demand avoidance (PDA) and autism, check out the linked article.

Potential Challenges in Identifying Autism in Teenagers

Identifying autism in teenagers can be challenging due to masking and camouflaging behaviors. By adolescence, we’ve learned that some behaviors are acceptable socially, and others make us the victim of criticism or even bullying. Coping mechanisms can help autistic teenagers to fit in socially, but they also can make it more difficult to recognize and meet their true needs.

Maybe they imitate movies, TV shows, or peers because they’ve seen those actions lead to positive social outcomes for others. If they “seem fine,” others might not believe them when they describe internal sensory difficulties or other challenges, but their internal experiences are very real! Additionally, social pressures and diagnostic biases, as well as gender differences, can impact the identification process.

The Importance of Early Intervention and Support

Early identification and intervention can drastically improve quality of life for individuals with autism. Appropriate resources and accommodations can empower them to feel comfortable in who they are and accomplish their life goals. Empowering teenagers with self-awareness and self-advocacy skills helps them navigate the challenges they may face and enhances their overall well-being.

Strategies for Supporting Autistic Teenagers

(Hey teenagers, this section isn’t just for your parents. Understanding what is helpful for you is an important step in the process of getting it!)

Creating an Understanding Environment

Creating an inclusive and understanding environment is essential for supporting autistic teenagers. Try out different communication strategies to see what works for them/you, and keep an open dialogue about how things are going. Some autistic teens appreciate clear and concise instructions, breaking down tasks into manageable steps, and using visual schedules for things like chores, homework, or extracurricular activities. It can also help to create a calm and predictable environment, minimizing sensory overload whenever possible. Giving them the opportunity to have quiet spaces or access to sensory tools, such as noise-canceling headphones or fidget toys, can support their sensory regulation.

Demonstrate Respect for Your Teen

reversible stuffed animal

A reversible stuffed animal is a great communication tool. While a teen is in the middle of something, they can choose whether they’d like to be approached by family members. If they place their turtle next to them with a smile, they can indicate to parents, siblings, etc. that they are comfortable being approached. On the other hand, a frowning stuffie indicates that they’d like to be left alone for the time being.

    Know Thyself (And Express Thyself!)

    Self-expression and self-regulation is key for autistic teenagers. Encouraging them to engage in their interests and providing outlets for creative expression can foster their sense of identity and boost their self-esteem. We feel this is particularly important because of the disproportionately high amount of negative messages autistic teens receive compared to their neurotypical peers. Offering opportunities to engage in activities that align with their passions, like joining clubs or pursuing hobbies, can help them connect with like-minded peers and build social connections.


    Teaching effective communication skills might involve a little more intention than with neurotypical kids. Encouraging open and honest conversations, practicing active listening, and validating their feelings and experiences can create a safe space for them to express themselves. We have a few products that can also help autistic people build communication skills. Most importantly, be patient and understanding, and allow them the time they need to process information and respond.

    Education and awareness play a significant role in supporting autistic teenagers. Educating family members, friends, and educators about autism can foster a more inclusive and accepting environment. Promoting acceptance and understanding can reduce stigma and create opportunities for meaningful social interactions.

    Teaching Two-Way Conversation

    conversation cards

    Autistic kids and teens have a tendency to “info-dump” on the people around them, which can be super fun. But, it doesn’t necessarily help them learn about their friends and build connections. Conversation cards are a great tool to help teach the skill of two-way conversation, and parents/caregivers can start by using them at the dinner table!

    Fulfilling Lives and an Inclusive Society

    By recognizing the unique challenges and strengths of autistic teenagers, we can create a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes their overall well-being. If you see potential signs of autism in your teenager, consider a professional evaluation. Remember, acceptance and support are crucial in helping them navigate the complexities of life. By embracing their uniqueness and providing appropriate resources and interventions, we can empower them to reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of autistic teenagers and foster a more inclusive society.

    autism, Social & Emotional

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