Being a teenager on the autism spectrum or parenting a teenager on the spectrum can be challenging, confusing and distressing. It can be difficult to know which are the right choices, where to go, and who to see. Whilst the team at Minds and Hearts are specialized in autism spectrum conditions (ASC), they also have considerable knowledge, skill and experience in typical adolescent development and a whole range of adolescent, parenting and family issues. Our team members are well-placed to offer guidance, assistance and support across a broad range of issues, and can incorporate their specialist knowledge of ASC to many unique situations. At Minds & Hearts we follow best practice guidelines and not only keep up with the research on ASC, but contribute to it also. To discover the broad range of clinical services (for e.g., diagnostic assessments, ongoing therapy) we offer, click here: What We Do
Clinical knowledge and research indicates that Group Therapy can be very helpful for adolescents on the autism spectrum. We offer social skills training in our “Exploring Friendship” groups for 13 – 15 year olds. Adolescents will learn the meaning of friendship, how to recognize friendship, how to deal with predators (bullies) and how to be a good friend. Friendship skills are the foundation stones for being a in a relationship, and part of a team in a workplace later in life.
We developed the group “Building Resilience” for 13-17 year olds with an autism spectrum condition who have experienced or are experiencing bullying and/or cruel teasing. The aims of this group are to offer support, and to increase self-esteem and inner resilience, as well as to offer some ideas and strategies to stop or prevent bullying.
For older teens we offer the groups “Being Me” for girls and “Moving to Manhood” for boys. Each of these groups was designed to assist the participants to develop a strong positive self-identity and self-esteem and good problem-solving skills to assist them to make healthy life choices. Participants learn more about their own strengths and difficulties, as well as strategies for managing the difficulties. In 2012 we will also be conducting a new group programme for teenagers "Exploring Feelings - Depression" which is designed for teens with a tendency for low mood.
For some teenagers a major challenge can be that they have a parent with an autism spectrum condition. For these teenagers we have developed a group as well as an information night to offer support, understanding, guidance and strategies, as well as ways to be close to the AS parent and to develop a positive relationship.
Teenagers vary in their readiness for the group context. Before enrolling in a group, all teenagers are assessed for readiness in an initial interview. If the group is not the best option at that time, an alternative path will be offered.
Each year we offer a number of Information Nights on topics related to raising or teaching an adolescent with an autism spectrum condition. The purpose of these evenings, held on a Tuesday most months of the year, is to provide insights, strategies and access to experts for questions.
For professionals interested in further training in autism spectrum disorders in adolescents we offer 2 intensive workshops: ASC: Diagnosis & Treatment, Basic Workshop and ASC Diagnosis and Treatment, Advanced Workshop. Each workshop is run by specialists in ASD, focuses on diagnosis and treatment, and provides up-to-date information to inform practice, skill demonstration, and opportunity for questions. The basic workshop is for new practitioners, or for those with a few years of experience. The advanced workshop is for professionals who are experienced in ASC, but would value the opportunity for further development of these skills through a research update, information about complex and atypical presentations, as well as case discussion.