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Over the past decade, the rate of childhood and adolescent diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased exponentially. Studies show that as of 2022, approximately 1 in 100 children worldwide have received a diagnosis of ASD. While most receive their diagnosis as young children, sometimes the signs of ASD can lay dormant or be misdiagnosed until late childhood or the teen years.
Receiving a correct diagnosis of ASD as a teenager can add an extra layer of complication to treatment. A particular approach may be needed for this age demographic, and there is clear evidence that Applied Behavior Analysis therapy could be the best scientifically-supported approach for this specific age group.
ABA Centers of America have established a reputation for comprehensive care for those with ASD using Applied Behavior Analysis. This approach can help teens with autism learn necessary life and communication skills.
The difference for teens with autism
Teens with autism are a group with unique considerations that need professionals with the experience and training to address their particular needs. With the proper treatment, many teens with ASD can hold jobs, do well in school, and have full social lives. The teenage years are extremely formative — not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally — meaning that if possible an ASD diagnosis is not properly addressed, it can have a detrimental effect on the rest of a teen’s life.
ABA Centers understand well the need for customization with teen autism. This is especially true with the diagnosis previously recognized as Asperger’s Syndrome, which often manifests itself with signs around the onset of puberty. While the DSM-5 description of Asperger’s has changed, the markers and symptoms of it have not. The challenge concerning treatment is finding a provider that understands the nuances between different placements on the autism spectrum. Whether a teen is high functioning or needs full assistance with the activities of daily living, ABA therapy can be successful.
New age, new skills
As teens enter high school, they often encounter a school structure far different from the more comfortable confines of an elementary school, which can cause them to struggle more than they had in the past. This is true for all teens, but especially those on the autism spectrum.
Necessary changes in individualized education plans (IEPs) can crop up with the changing needs of growing children. Different social structures can send a treatment plan that may have worked for a young child into chaos for an older one. ABA Centers of America individualizes their treatment plans, so they are patient-specific and age-appropriate.
The targeted treatment plans for teenagers with autism can include such specifics as addressing sleep problems, learning how to perform self-care, or helping them navigate emerging adult feelings that may include relationships outside of the family unit. With ABA therapy, problematic behaviors are targeted with healthy alternatives, inherent strengths are identified and bolstered, and crucial life and social skills are highlighted as a priority. Treatment can also focus on a teen’s post-high school life, career plans, and even elements that can help parents better relate to their teens with ASD.
ABA Centers of America begin their treatment process with a thorough assessment so they may land on the correct diagnosis that will inform the process going forward. Then, along with the family and the patient, there will be a goal-setting meeting and a chance to develop a custom plan with board-certified behavior analysts. Throughout the care journey, the process is constantly evaluated to make sure goals are being met, and that adjustments are made whenever necessary.
Finding comprehensive care quickly
One of the most significant frustrations of families seeking help for their teenagers on the spectrum is the difficulty in finding help. A nationwide provider shortage, healthcare deserts that are common in rural areas, and the lack of coverage that many may grapple with make finding diagnostic services and therapy for teens with ASD challenging.
ABA Centers of America was founded on the idea that access to comprehensive ASD care should be far more accessible than it is in many cases. ABA Centers CEO Christopher Barnett has a personal connection to the autism journey and knows well how difficult securing therapy can be.
“Both of my nieces are on the autism spectrum and had a very difficult time getting treatment,” explains Barnett. “They languished for years waiting even to get a diagnosis, then were put on another waiting list for ABA therapy. Leveraging my background in healthcare, I knew there had to be a better way, so I set out to disrupt this space and fundamentally change the way ABA services are made available to communities.”
With more and more teens diagnosed with autism, receiving proven, evidence-based therapy could be integral to their future success. With their science-based, highly-trained approach, ABA Centers of America is changing how people with autism can receive treatment and reach their lifelong goals.