My teen is gifted and they are on the autism spectrum or neurodiverse.
They excel in one area, but they lack other important life skills.
My teen is struggling socially. Sometimes, they are bullied by their peers, but they want to make friends.
I want to give my teen every opportunity to succeed.
As a parent of a teen with autism, I am concerned about their future after high school.
You Have a Twice-Exceptional Teen with Autism or Neurodiversity
Your twice-exceptional teen is gifted and has autism traits. They excel in one, or a few, areas of their life. For example, they may excel in mathematics, art, music, or writing. But, they also lack other very important life skills, such as interpersonal skills or executive functioning.
Twice-exceptional youth, or neurodiverse teens, may lack the following skills:
- Social skills: making friends, showing empathy, and understanding other’s point of view
- Communication skills: turn-taking, initiating conversation, and taking things too literally
- Self-help skills: good hygiene or doing chores
- Normal processing speed: it may take them longer to do things or understand what other’s are saying,
- Executive planning skills: poor planning, lack of attention or organization, poor time management, or impaired short term memory
Your Gifted Teen with Autism is Often Misunderstood
Other people seem to have a hard time relating to your gifted teen with autism traits. Teachers or extended family members may be confused by your child’s behavioral deficits. They are bright and gifted, but can’t seem to function without your help. Also, they may be socially awkward. Maybe, they have been called lazy, rude, oppositional, or unmotivated. But, they’re not. This is their autism. For example, what may appear to be laziness to some, is actually a neurodiverse teen’s way of avoiding a situation that makes them uncomfortable or they don’t understand.
Unfortunately, many neurodiverse teens adopt this negative view of themselves. Therefore, they actually ignore the larger issue which is the skills they are lacking. This prevents them from getting the support they need to be successful. Which in turn, causes them to experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and poor self-confidence.
Gifted Teens With Autism Want to Make Friends and Feel Accepted
Many gifted teens with autism have black and white thinking often referred to as polarized thinking. This means that they hold tight to their beliefs. Also, they struggle to see other’s points of view. This may mean that they can’t accept being wrong or a problem having more than one solution. Therefore, your child’s neurotypical peers struggle to interact with your teen. Therefore, your teen feels isolated and lonely. Also, they may have been bullied for being different.
Ultimately, these feels may cause your teen to feel depressed and anxious. They might feel like they are defective, broken, or worthless. These self-defeating beliefs make it even harder for your child to find the courage to learn and practice the skills they are lacking.
But your gifted teen wants to make friends and be accepted. Often, they want to be independent. But, they don’t know where to begin.
Parenting a Twice-Exceptional Teen with Autism is Complex and Exhausting
As a parent, you may find it frustrating and upsetting when others don’t understand your child. You know how amazing they are. And, you wish everyone could see them the same way you do. But their uneven profile or their splinter skills make that very challenging. Maybe, you’ve even heard harsh criticism regarding your child’s behaviors and it hurts. This may lead you to blame yourself, perhaps you should have done more to help them overcome the skills they are lacking. But, you know at the end of the day you’ve done the best you can.
You often feel stressed. It’s hard for you to determine if they are showing manipulative or avoidant behavior. You don’t know how much help you should be providing. And, you might be wondering if you should just step in and take care of things for them, or if you should make them try.
It’s clear that adulthood, and perhaps college, is on the horizon for your gifted teen. And this is very scary for you. This leads you to feel lost and lonely. You want to find some support and meet other people who can relate to the things you are experiencing.
The Gifted Teen with Autism and Caregiver Group Offers You and Your Teen Support
You know your teen with autism is amazing. And, with support and practice, they can master the skills they need to be successful after high school. Likewise, you, as their parent, need support. You want to learn tools to help your child be successful and independent. BOTH of you need a tribe and support team.
The Gifted Teen with Autism and Caregiver Group at Open Doors Therapy in Palo Alto provides a supportive environment where you and your teen can come and meet with people who share similar struggles. During the meeting, we separate the gifted youth from their caregivers. We do this to allow both the youth and the caregivers to have their own space to express their thoughts, concerns, and feelings. Actually, having their own group is important for your teen to begin separating themselves from their parents and find independence. Often, youth with autism rely on their parents to speak for them. But, in their own group teens learn the skills to feel empowered.
Likewise, providing parents with a safe place to meet to express their feelings and concerns is important. They will meet other caregivers who have similar parenting struggles and concerns. They will learn new skills to communicate with their child. Also, they will be given new tools to encourage their child’s growth and independence.
During the Gifted Teen with Autism and Caregiver Group, Your Child Will Learn Valuable Social Skills
One of the most common struggles for neurodiverse teens is making and keeping friends. Therefore our social skills group curriculum focuses on learning and practicing social skills and life skills in a safe and non-judgmental setting with the guidance of an autism therapist. Ultimately, our goal is to help set them up for independence and success in college.
Your Child Will Learn and Practice Social Skills with Other Gifted Youth with Autism
We understand that your gifted teen struggles socially. We know it can be hard for them to establish quality friendships. Furthermore, their social deficits may cause them to feel anxious in social settings. So, our therapists will teach your teen social skills they can practice in the group to become more comfortable in social settings in their day-to-day life.
Some of the important things your teen will learn include:
Strategies to feel confident initiating conversations
Managing their desire to “info-dump”
Improving non-verbal communication
Understanding social norms and social cues
Improve listening skills
Expressing empathy and validation to build rapport
Your Neurodiverse Teen Will Learn Strategies to Cope with Stress and Anxiety
Many gifted teens with autism traits feel anxious due to their social deficits. Although they may be gifted in many ways, they still struggle very much in other aspects of their life. This often causes them immense stress. Therefore, our autism therapists will guide your child through new relaxation and stress reduction techniques so they can better manage their anxiety.
Some of the stress reduction techniques your child will learn include:
Understanding emotions and the things that cause them to feel worried
Tips to manage sensory overload
Your Autistic Teen Will Become More Confident and Self-Aware
Ultimately, we want your child to leave our social skills group feeling like they have the skills they need to be successful in their lives. We want them to gain independence and be able to advocate for themselves.
Some of the Self-Awareness Skills They Will Learn Include:
Identify their goals for the future
Creating routine and structure in their life
- Giving them tools they need to be an independent adult
Practicing self-advocacy and navigating uncomfortable situations
Identifying their strengths, values, and challenges
Specifics about the Gifted Teen with Autism and Caregiver Group
This group is specifically for teens age 16-18 who are gifted and have high-functioning autism and their caregivers. Before joining our group we will schedule a free phone consultation with you and your child. This will allow us to determine if this group will meet both your needs. Then, we will schedule an intake appointment to learn more about you and your child.
If you both choose to join this group, we ask that you commit to meeting once a week for 1.5 hours. This group meets during the school year. It is a 2-term sequence. The first term meets from August through December. The second term meets from January through May. The group meets once a week after school.
The cost of this group is $250 per session for both you and your child. To learn more about fees and payment please click here.
Online Social Skills Group in California
The fall 2020 group will be held virtually online via Zoom rather than at our counseling clinic in Palo Alto.
Begin Autism Therapy with Your Teen in The South Bay Area
If you are ready to find a support group for you and your gifted teen, then we can help. The Gifted Youth and Caregiver Group at Open Doors Therapy will provide you with useful parenting tools and your child with social skills in a supportive and welcoming environment. Ultimately, our goal is to help both of you feel more confident about the future! To begin autism group therapy in the South Bay Area, please follow these steps:
- Contact our autism therapy clinic to schedule a free 30-minute phone consultation,
- Join us for a 1-hour intake meeting with an autism specialist. This will allow us to make sure the Gifted Youth and Caregiver Group will be a good fit for both you and your autistic teen.
- Find support and give your teen an opportunity to learn new social skills in the group!
Other Autism Services at Open Doors Therapy
Our Palo Alto/Bay Area counseling clinic helps teens and adults with autistic traits and their families. This includes individuals who identify as having Asperger’s, high functioning autism, undiagnosed autism traits, etc. Specifically, our services include individual therapy, parent counseling, and group therapy. We also offer social skills groups for college students with autistic traits, young adults with autism, neurodiverse adults, women who identify as neurodiverse, a mother’s group, and an online autism parent support group. We now offer online group therapy in the state of California. Also, I write weekly blog posts to share autism information and resources. Please contact Open Doors Therapy to learn more about our autism therapy options and how we can help you or your loved one!