It is a real pleasure to address you and share some recommendations to help you support your children during the growth and change process they will experience in the coming years. Adolescence is a stage of great transformations, both physical and emotional, and it is essential to prepare your children to face these changes with confidence and resilience.
- Constant communication: Talking to your children is essential for establishing a relationship of trust and mutual understanding. Regular communication allows you to stay informed about their thoughts, emotions, and needs. Although some children with autism may have difficulty communicating verbally, it is important to find ways to connect with them through other means, such as using pictures, gestures, or assistive technology.
- Information and education: One of the best ways to prepare your children for the changes they will experience is to provide them with age-appropriate information and education. Make sure to talk to them about the physical changes that will occur in their body, the emotions they may feel, and the additional responsibilities they will have as they grow.
- Fostering self-esteem: Helping your children develop strong self-esteem is crucial for them to face the challenges of adolescence with confidence. Celebrate their achievements, highlight their strengths, and encourage their interests, so they feel secure and valued.
- Fostering independence: As your children grow, it is essential to encourage them to develop independent living skills, such as self-care, time management, and decision-making. These skills will help them successfully face the challenges of adult life and feel more confident in themselves.
- Establishing clear boundaries and expectations: Adolescence is a period when young people begin to explore their identity and make decisions for themselves. It is important that you set clear boundaries and expectations regarding behavior, responsibilities, and family values, so your children have a solid framework on which to base their decisions.
- Establishing routines and structures: Adolescence is a period of both physical and emotional changes. To help your children feel more secure and in control, it is important to maintain a routine and structure in their daily life. Routines provide a sense of stability and make it easier for them to adapt to the changes they experience during this stage of life.
- Providing support in the school transition: The transition from primary to secondary education can be a significant change for children with autism. Make sure to work together with education professionals to develop a transition plan that addresses your children’s specific needs and provides the necessary support for them to adapt to the new school environment.
- Accepting and celebrating diversity: It is essential that you, as parents, accept and celebrate your children’s differences. Help them understand that their unique characteristics are valuable and that, despite the challenges they may face, their identity is something to be proud of.
- Developing social skills: Adolescence is a stage where social relationships become more important. Help your children develop age-appropriate social skills, such as communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. You can practice together, enroll them in groups or workshops, or seek support from specialized professionals.
- Fostering friendships and social relationships: As your children become teenagers, they are likely to want to establish deeper relationships with their peers. Encourage them to participate in social activities and develop friendships, taking into account their specific interests and needs.
- Preparing them for the future: As your children grow, it will be important to help them explore their interests and abilities so they can chart a path toward their future. Encourage your children to participate in extracurricular activities, volunteer programs, or courses that allow them to develop skills and discover their passions.
- Emotional Support: Adolescence can be an emotionally turbulent period, and children with autism are no exception. It is important that you are available to provide emotional support and listen to your children’s concerns. You may also consider seeking support from professionals or parent groups in similar situations.
Preparing for the changes your children will face during adolescence is essential for their well-being and success. By providing them with information, support, and appropriate tools, you will be laying the foundation for your children to become confident, resilient adults capable of facing life’s challenges successfully. Remember that you can always rely on the help of professionals and other parents in similar situations to guide you on this exciting journey.
When and how to start this process
Understanding the right time to begin working on the transition to adolescence for your children is crucial to ensure they are well-prepared to face this stage of life. Below, we offer some suggestions on when and how to approach this process and some examples of actions you can take to support your children in their growth and development.
- When to start: It is advisable to begin working on the transition to adolescence when your children are in the final stage of primary education, around 10-12 years old. This will allow you to address physical, emotional, and social changes gradually and adapt to them over time.
- Education about physical changes: Talk to your children about the changes that will occur in their body during puberty, such as hair growth, development of sexual organs, and changes in voice. You can use books or online resources that present this information clearly and accessibly.
- Emotional development: Adolescence is a period of intense emotions. Help your children understand and manage their emotions by teaching them self-control techniques and appropriate emotional expression. For example, you can teach them to identify their emotions and express them constructively through communication, art, or physical activity.
- Fostering responsibility: As your children grow, it is important for them to take on more responsibilities at home. You can assign them age-appropriate chores, such as tidying their room, helping with meal preparation, or taking care of pets. This will teach them valuable skills and help them develop a sense of responsibility and self-efficacy.
- Support in school transition: Begin working with education professionals on the school transition process from primary to secondary education. This may include visits to the new school, meetings with teachers, and developing an individualized support plan that addresses your children’s specific needs.
- Setting realistic goals: Work with your children to set realistic and achievable goals related to their education, social skills, and personal development. Celebrate each achievement together and use difficult moments as opportunities for learning and growth.
- Fostering friendships: Help your children develop friendships and social skills by participating in group activities that fit their interests, such as sports clubs, art groups, or support groups for young people with autism. This will allow them to practice social interaction and forge meaningful relationships with their peers.
Starting to work on the transition to adolescence at the right time is crucial for your children’s success. By approaching this process gradually and providing them with the necessary tools and support, you will be laying the foundation for your children to become confident teenagers capable of facing the challenges of this stage of life with confidence and resilience.
Remember that you can always rely on the help of professionals and other parents in similar situations to guide you on this exciting journey. Together, you will overcome obstacles and help your children reach their full potential during adolescence and beyond. Patience, love, and unconditional support you provide will be essential for ensuring their well-being and success in the future.