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What would you recommend for a teen who has difficulty conversing?

(15 Posts)
ShineSmile Mon 26-May-14 22:23:58

I think my DB is on the autism spectrum, but has not been diagnosed (it is slight).

It wasn't noticeable when younger but now that he is 14 he really struggles with conversation - just expressing himself is such an effort for him that he rarely talks to us. He is also struggling with English language at school (has always been a poor reader), but does very well in maths.

What can be done to help him gain more confidence to speak and learn how to converse? He also struggles with understanding other people's emotions and social situations.

Is there anything that can be done to help? I'm happy to pay for speech therapists etc, whatever will help.


soontobeslendergirl Mon 26-May-14 22:34:17

My 14 year old is fairly similar - he was bullied when younger and stopped engaging in conversations and was thought to be borderline for aspergers. He differs in that he is very good at English and reads voraciously. Interestingly he is much better on the phone than face to face.

we got this book and it does seem to be helping:

ShineSmile Tue 27-May-14 09:09:31

Soontobe, thanks! Ill get there for him but I'm not sure he will use it. I was more thinking of speech coaching or the like

antiquesbubble Tue 27-May-14 09:25:48

As an adult female who has been diagnosed with autism in her 30s, I would urge you (or your parents) to seek a full assessment of his needs. His needs/symptoms may appear slight to you, but often this is due to a high level of masking his symptoms, which can lead to mental health issues due to the sheer demands of it. And many symptoms would not be obvious to the casual observer but can be quite significant in how a person with autism copes with every day life.

Most referrals for an autism diagnosis would go via your GP, or you could offer to pay for a private diagnosis which would be much quicker. There are such things as social skills classes for those on the spectrum, although it's hard to find them outside of the education system. It doesn't really work on a 1:1 basis, especially for higher functioning teens - it should ideally be provided in an embedded curriculum. Any sort of intervention must be targeted at those on the spectrum, not at teens in general.

ShineSmile Wed 28-May-14 09:19:34


Those of you that got a referral for specialist testing, how did you convince GP to refer you?

ShineSmile Wed 28-May-14 09:19:59

Or how did you convince GP to refer your child?

Goblinchild Wed 28-May-14 09:24:54

My DS has AS and is an adult now. We practised a lot, so that he had a bank of responses to questions. He also practised with friends and relatives that would be encouraging and not rude or dismissive of his ideas, what he was talking about and give him calm feedback that he'd listen to.
It's a slow process, it's such an emotionally-charged thing. Can he 'chat' online with confidence? Are there specifics with language he finds hard?; sarcasm, irony, metaphors and pop references always tripped mine up.

Goblinchild Wed 28-May-14 09:25:37

It's also tricky picking out which parts are spectrum and which are teenage boy. smile

ShineSmile Wed 28-May-14 09:32:34

Goblin, thanks, very true. How did you convince GP to give a referal? I also thinks he has a lot of unusual amount of anger as frustration, would GP refer to a child psychologist?

Goblinchild Wed 28-May-14 09:36:38

We got his referral when he was 9 through the GP with the school's support. I went along with a bullet-pointed list of all the things we'd noticed over the last year or so. Tony Attwood's book was very useful.
The GP agreed that there was enough evidence to warrant a referral, the process took a couple of months and he ended up with his DX.

Goblinchild Wed 28-May-14 09:42:48

Would my patent Goblinchild's guide to spotting behaviour that may indicate your child is on the spectrum be useful?
If it isn't, ignore it.

Some people have asked if their child has AS and then gone on to describe behaviour and sensitivities, so I wondered if this might help.
The following is not meant in any way to be professional advice, I'm just a parent with a teen Aspie, but it might help some individuals decide if they want to explore certain issues a little further or ask for guidance from professionals
It is by no means a complete or exhaustive list, and does not cover co-morbid symptoms that may be attached to AS.
And yes, for all the NTs reading, We know that most children do most of these things at some point.

Main characteristics
Difficulties with social relationships.
Not picking up signals and info that NTs take for granted such as facial expressions, intonation and inferred information.

Difficulties with communication.
May speak fluently but take little notice of reactions, may monologue, may not be aware of audience's feelings or reactions.
May be over-precise, formal or literal in speech. Jokes, metaphors, sayings, figurative language may cause total confusion, stress, meltdowns etc.

Difficulties with social imagination, imaginative play and flexible thinking.
This one causes some confusion as people say 'Well, he plays with his lego and makes up stories and has imagination, so...?'
It's the social aspect of imaginative play that can cause difficulties. If the child is in total control of their 'world' and setting the agenda, then they are being imaginative. AS children find it difficult to play when other individuals are involved that have different ideas or who don't perform as expected, unlike a lego or toy figure.
Abstract thinking is another area of difficulty, although the child may learn facts and figures easily, dealing with abstract concepts, without clear outcomes may be a challenge. Subjects like literature, religion and philosophy.

They may also be:
socially awkward and clumsy in social relationships with others
naive and gullible, a good rule of thumb is that many Aspies function at an emotional age 2/3 that of their chronological age.
unaware of how others feel
unable to carry on a 'give and take' conversation
upset by any change in routines and transitions, often undetectable to NTs
literal in speech and understanding
overly sensitive to lights, noise, odours, tastes and tactile sensations again often undetectable by NTs
have fixed interests or obsessions
physically awkward in sports, often those that require simultaneous application of different skills.
Not a team player in any sense.
have an unusually accurate memory for details
sleeping or eating issues that cause problems
trouble understanding and processing things they have heard or read
Inappropriate facial expressions or body language
unusual speech patterns, repetative or irrelevant remarks
stilted, formal speech
overly loud, high or monotonous voice
stims that may involve rocking, fidgeting, joint cracking, humming, pacing...

soontobeslendergirl Wed 28-May-14 13:01:35

Looking through your list Goblin, i can tick a fair few boxes for both my boys but equally I can dismiss loads as not applying at all.

My eldest ended up getting a referral through to CAHMs via the school psychologist because of the behaviour he was demonstrating as a result of bullying. We went for an initial appointment and they concluded that even if we went for the full blown assessment, the likliehood was that the result would be borderline and so basically said it was up to us if we wanted to go ahead.

We chose not to as by the time the appoinment had come round, he was having a lot less issues and was about to go to high school.

We have found the social anxiety book pretty good, it's not something he does himself, we do it together. It basically normalises for them the fact that people are shy and anxious and gives them strategies to help them become more sociable - if that's what they want. It's specifically for teens but is reasonably basic with not too much reading.

Goblinchild Wed 28-May-14 18:01:26

That's why the list is full of might and maybe and could. smile
If you split the spectrum traits into two sets, my children would have had all the traits between them at some point or other in their lives.
It's why it is dangerous to generalise or assume, so many varieties, combinations and possibilities.

anthropology Thu 29-May-14 14:29:20

you can get a Wisc4 assessment through dyslexia centres and charities as well as going via gps etc. They are very comprehensive and show strengths as well as weaknesses. memory processing issues etc, so very clear for schools and child. Cost about £500 if done privately, via places like the Dyslexia teaching Centre , some bursaries available. any document can take him through support to A levels. worth its weight in gold to get a full assessment asap by someone like Katherine Kinderselys team, as brings hope and a clear understanding to teens what stresses them and shows importantly, how high they can aim , despite challenges. IME so many kids dont fit the criteria fully, and we had real problems with camhs misdiagnosing due to this. In 3 years this was the most helpful document for everyone.

twentyten Thu 29-May-14 21:39:07

How about drama class/ LAMDA sessions to build confidence?

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