The Basics of AutismSpectrum DisordersTraining SeriesRAAC Adults with Autism Spectrum DisordersTask Force
Adult Training SeriesModules Module One: Autism Defined, Autism Prevalence andPrimary Characteristics Module Two: Physical Characteristics of Autism Module Three: Cognition and Learning in Autism Module Four: Autism and Sensory Differences Module Five: Communication and Autism
Adult Training SeriesModules Module Six: Behavior Challenges and Autism Module Seven: Understanding Behavior in Personswith Autism Module Eight: Functional Behavior Assessment Module Nine: Autism and Leisure Skills to Teach Module Ten: Special Issues of Adolescence andAdulthood Module Eleven: Safety and Autism
Challenges of Adolescence andAdulthood: BehaviorBehavior: Generally adults with ASD do not acquire new behaviorproblems but old ones may reappear. During adolescence there may be an increase inaggressive behaviors. Adults with ASD are more likely to have behaviorproblems than many other people with developmentaldisabilities.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood:AnxietyAnxiety often gets worse as the person gets older.A quiet time or a quieting routine may be helpful ifanxiety seems high.Teach relaxation exercises as part of the daily routine.Let them know when there are changes in schedule oractivities.Medications for anxiety may be prescribed.Physical exercise may be calming.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood:Sexuality Some behaviors may be seen as sexuallyinappropriate even if the person didn’t intend forthem to be. For example, the person with ASD may notunderstand how staring, undoing pants on the way tothe bathroom, leaving the bathroom dooropen, staring in windows, saying inappropriate thingsbothers others. We will have to teach behaviors that are acceptable.
Autism and Sexuality Sex and sexuality is a hard topic, especially related toindividuals with ASD, and one that we might rather avoid. Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of everyone. Avoiding discussion and active teaching about sexuality canhurt individuals in the long-term if it is not addressed openlyand honestly. As with other social skills or interactions, the individual withautism is not going to learn the cultural rules or norms aboutsex without being directly instructed. Program staff need to be in partnership with family membersas sexuality issues are addressed.
Big IdeaInappropriate sexual behavior needs tobe treated as we would any otherbehavior. We need to be matter-of-factwhen dealing with these behaviors. Weneed to teach appropriate behavior.
Myths About Sexuality andthe Individual with Autism Persons with ASD have little or no interestin sexuality. Persons with ASD are hypersexual, or havean higher than normal interest in sex. Persons with ASD are solely heterosexual.
The Truth Is….. Persons with ASD are sexual beings, as are all of us. Individuals with ASD may have sexual feelings that areout-of-sync with their level of social development andawareness. As individuals with autism grow older, their social andsexual skills sets are likely to show a wider differencefrom their chronological age and appearance. Other people will base their expectations on theirchronological age, NOT their developmental age.
Guidelines to TeachingSexuality Think ahead and be proactive. Do not wait until theindividual demonstrates an “inappropriate” sexualbehavior. Be concrete. Be serious, calm, and supportive. Break larger areas of information into smaller, moremanageable ideas. Be consistent and be repetitive.
Big IdeaSexuality Education increases thelikelihood that people with disabilitieswill either have the skills to staysafe, or will be more likely to reportvictimization after it occurs.
Challenges of Adolescence and Adulthood:Medications There is no “Autism” medicine. Medicine is used to target specificsymptoms. Doctors may use a trial and errorapproach to find the right medicine and thecorrect dose.
Challenges of Adolescence andAdulthood: MedicationsSymptoms that are sometimes targeted: Obsessive-compulsive behaviors Anxiety Aggression Seizures Hyperactivity/Attention
Big IdeaYou need to clearly describe thesymptoms in order to help thedoctor know how to treat theproblem.
Challenges of Adolescence andAdulthood: Regular Check-ups The person with ASD needs regular medical check-ups. Vaccinations need to be up-to-date. Blood pressure needs to be checked yearly (moreoften if the person has a blood pressure problem). Weight needs to be checked regularly to make surethere are no rapid weight gains or losses.
Challenges of Adolescence andAdulthood: Regular Check-ups Women need to have yearly visits with thegynecologist. Regular dental check-ups are important. Specialarrangements may have to be made for these visits. Procedures like drawing blood or medical tests mayneed special planning.
Challenges of Adolescence andAdulthood: Everyday Precautions Skin should be examined for unusual growths ormoles (make sure the person wears sunscreen). Any changes in bowel or bladder habits should bereported. Listen for loud snoring and gasping for breathduring sleep. Many people with ASD have sleepapnea. This may need to be treated.
Big IdeaPeople with ASD will experience many ofthe problems of aging that we all face.The challenge is that they may not beable to tell us about the symptoms theyare experiencing.
Challenges of Adolescence andAdulthood: Physical Activity Some people with ASD may not be self-motivated byphysical exercise but may be motivated by afavorite activity. The person may like certain activities such asswimming, horseback riding, Karate. A daily walking program could provide necessaryphysical activity.
Big IdeaPhysical activity isnecessary for a healthylife style.