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Helping Your Teen Cope with an AS Diagnosis

Dr. Michael Clatch received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Psychology from National-Louis University and his Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Midwestern University where he dedicated his dissertation to the effects art therapy has on adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome.


Asperger’s syndrome is typically diagnosed by the time the child reaches the age of 7. When the diagnosis is initially made, parents often react with a host of emotions including anger and sadness. Even though children with AS are often diagnosed at an early age, it is not until they enter into adolescence or young adulthood that they are able to fully understand the meaning of their diagnosis. Unfortunately, many adolescents with AS respond to their diagnosis in a negative manner. Many become angry and act out through various types of aggressive behavior. Some may defy their doctor’s orders and refuse to take their medications. The response of the teen to their diagnosis is one that is quite common. Many teens with chronic health issues face a series of crises related to their condition before they come to terms with it.

Although AS teens may face some challenges in understanding their disorder and what it means for their lives, parents may find that talking with their teens about their diagnosis may actually provide their child with some relief. Teens with AS typically notice differences between themselves and their classmates. These differences can be a source of anxiety and concern that impacts the teen’s ability to feel good about him or herself. While the AS teen may still face challenges with regard to self-image and social isolation, parents can play an important role in providing their child with information about their disorder. Parents can also recommend supports for their child to help them overcome the social challenges that they face. In spite of the obstacles that may arise, parents should talk with their teen about their diagnosis. Ongoing communication and support from parents can be an important foundation for helping AS teens navigate the challenges that they face.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.