“How can I help my teenage son make friends?”
Many parents of teenagers with asperger’s or autism face this question. Isolating behavior isn’t unusual for individuals with autism. It’s a natural response to not being able or not knowing how to recognize social cues and make meaningful connections with others.
Puberty is already a difficult time for teenagers–it’s even more difficult for teens with autism. There could be many reasons they’re not making or maintaining friendships, but there’s a few things you can do in order to help them.
Answering the question, “How can I help my teenage son make friends?” is difficult. There’s no handbook on how to help a teen with autism make friends. The truth is that autism makes it much harder to do so.
Teens with autism struggle with the basic parts of socializing, which are usually the foundation of friendships. As humans, neurotypical individuals crave socialization and teens with autism do, too–it’s just that it’s harder for them to get it.
Especially in adolescence (where most social skill-building happens), making friends is a challenge for those who are even a little “different”. If a teen continues to get rejected after attempting social interaction, it can be hard for them to be motivated to try anymore.
There’s good news, though. There are many therapeutic options that help teens with autism develop the skills needed to build and maintain meaningful relationships with others.
Options for improving social skills
Your child is not alone. Many teens with autism struggle to make friends and need extra help to learn how to do so. That’s why there are therapies geared specifically towards overcoming this obstacle:
- Social Skills Training: This type of therapy focuses on teaching teens with autism about the nonverbal and verbal cues associated with social interaction. Many individuals with autism aren’t sure how to go about things like “small talk” and that’s exactly what this therapy tries to accomplish. It gives teens with autism the chance to build a foundation and begin to recognize, interpret, and use social behaviors.
- Talk Therapy: This is a traditional form of therapy that deals mostly with talking through behaviors, experiences, and attitudes. The therapist leads the individual through talking about their insecurities and fears with the goal of making them hold less power.
- Group Therapy: This therapy is usually used after an individual has made at least some progress in social interaction through other forms of therapy. Once they’re ready for it, group therapy gives a teen with autism the chance to experience a positive social interaction in a safe setting.
Those are just a few of the options available to help you answer the question, “How can I help my teenage son make friends?” If you truly believe your child is struggling, it’s essential to seek out a professional.
Seven Stars is here for your family
Seven Stars is a program that combines residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social skills, academic skills, self-efficacy and prosocial behaviors. At Seven Stars, we strive to help our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.