Rebellious Aspergers Teenagers

"Why does my Aspergers teen reject everything I say? Why is he so argumentative and defiant?"

These are some of the many questions you, as a parent of a rebellious Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) teen, might be asking yourself right now.

The teenage years can be a very rough time for both the teen and the parent – especially when you consider the challenges that are part of the Aspergers condition.

Why do Aspergers teens rebel?

It's normal for any teenager to show a little bit of rebellion now and again. However, teenage rebellion that is constant, interferes with normal daily functioning, and is destructive calls for much more attention. Aspergers teens rebel for a variety of reasons:
  • Peer pressure - Some forms of rebellion can begin with pressure from peers to join in various destructive behaviors.
  • Independence - These years are a constant struggle between dependence and independence. Rebellious adolescents want to have total independence and prove to you that they can do things themselves. At the same time, they are overwhelmed and still desire parental protection.
  • Hormonal changes - As adolescents bodies are changing, hormone fluctuations can bring about all sorts of mood changes.
  • Discovering their identities - Adolescents are at a point in their lives when they are trying to figure out who they are as a person, their likes/dislikes and what they will be doing for the rest of their lives. They use this time to test and try out many identities until they find one they are most comfortable with.

In what forms do adolescents rebel?

How your Aspergers teen chooses to rebel depends on his own individual feelings and problems. Some forms may include:
  • Argumentative - quick to anger, overly defenseless
  • Change in appearance/interests - trying out new clothing styles, hairstyles, tastes in music
  • Rejection of rules/curfews
  • Running away from home
  • School problems - cutting classes, missing school, drop in grades
  • Spending more time with friends away from family members
  • Substance abuse - experimenting with alcohol and illicit drugs

How can you prevent teenage rebellion?

Preventing all forms of rebellion can be a difficult chore as some of this behavior is a normal process of growing up. Keeping the dangerous forms under control is necessary though in order to avoid further problems from developing. If your Aspergers teen is showing harmful rebellious behavior, further treatment with a mental health professional should be sought. Rebellion could be due to another underlying problem. 

As moms and dads, the following methods can be helpful in keeping rebellion at a minimum:
  1. Don't be too harsh with criticism - Adolescents like to experiment with their individuality to discover who they are. As long as it is not harmful, let them try out new things. Give your opinion, but don't criticize.
  2. Keep an open relationship with your teen - Let them know that they can always come to you with their problems, under any circumstances. If your rebellious teenager feels the need to be alone, give them some space to work out their problems by themselves first.
  3. Punishments should be fair - Set reasonable consequences for broken rules as unfair punishments can create further rebellion.
  4. Set up some reasonable house rules - If your rules are to strict, your rebellious adolescent might feel the need to break them. Give your adolescents some say in home of these rules and curfews so that they feel some ownership over them.
  5. Try not to argue with your rebellious adolescent - Yelling and arguing with your rebellious adolescent about your differences only sets a bad example of how to deal with problems. Try to approach the matter at hand in a calm fashion. If that cannot be done, give yourself some space for a while and talk about it at a later time once tempers diminish.

==> Help for Parents of Teens with Asperger's and HFA

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