The Signs of Autism in Teenagers

The signs of autism in teenagers

The main signs of autism in babies, toddlers, children and teenagers, affect their communication, social and emotional skills. 

For teenagers with autism spectrum disorders managing their symptoms in a school setting can be difficult and exacerbate their autism spectrum disorder symptoms or bring to fore symptoms that were more manageable in non-school environments. 

Autism in teenagers: communication issues 

  • Problems with conversation – understanding how a conversation works, the need to take turns within a conversation, a reluctance to initiate or engage in conversation
  • Struggle with instructions, especially those that include more than one or two steps or tasks.
  • Take everything literally that is said to them – they may miss the nuances, or even outright sarcasm or humor involved in a conversation. 
  • Be overly interested in a specific subject, and want to talk exclusively about that, even if their listener shows that they are not interested. 
  • They may struggle to understand nonverbal cues, including body language and voice tone. This makes it difficult for them to understand the feelings and emotions of others. 
  • They may also struggle to read facial expressions in other people, and not understand how to use facial expressions to express their own emotions and feelings. 

Autism in teenagers: social issues

  • Choosing to be alone, and to actively seek time alone rather than with others.
  • Seeking out activities with clear structure and rules.
  • Struggling to make friends.
  • Struggling with social cues, and norms of behavior in different social situations. 
  • Anxiety about being in social settings and situations, or where they need to mix with people they don’t know well. 

Behavioral issues in teenagers with ASD

  • Compulsive behavior.
  • Be overly attached to specific objects – this may be a favored toy, or something more unusual.
  • A sensitivity to change, and they may struggle to respond to changes in routine and rituals.
  • Repetitive physical movements using their own body.
  • Aggressive behavior in response to a change in routine, or a sensory stimulation. 

Sensory issues in teenagers with ASD

  • They may respond with a great deal of sensitivity, and sometimes with extreme reactions, to sensory stimuli – loud sounds, strong smells, or overly bright colors and designs.
  • They may need sensory stimulation – to touch certain objects over and over again. 

For many teenagers, navigating puberty and high school is a time of great stress and anxiety. There can be a lot of pressure on teenagers to conform to social norms, and for children with autism spectrum disorder who struggle with their social and communication skills anyway, this can be even more challenging. Teenagers with ASD require targeted emotional and social support to help them navigate the challenges of their teenage years. 


FDNA™ Health can bring you closer to a diagnosis.
Learn here about symptoms and conditions and contact your clinician.