13-year-old diagnosed with ASD, now what?

I'm at a loss for what to do next. My 13-year-old son was recently diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum as well as having executive functioning challenges and slow processing speed. We initially had him assessed NOT because we suspected ASD; rather he was exhibiting some strange behaviors more closely associated with OCD, depression, and anxiety that we thought were exacerbated by Covid-19. At first, we were shocked by this diagnosis but now as I become more familiar with ASD, I've learned that no two ASD people are alike and now his diagnosis makes more sense. The place that did the assessment recommended we have him on a 504 plan at school to give him more time for taking tests, put him near the front of the classroom, etc. They also recommended ABA therapy focused on social skills. However, my son is very resistant to all of this. He does not want to get special treatment at school and is one who likes to blend into the crowd, so much so, that he wears a hoodie everywhere. His grades are ok, but as he goes to high school next year, I know things will get harder. He has a good group of friends but he spends most of his time online gaming with them; they don't hang out very much after school in each other's homes. When he games with them, rules are clearer and his self-esteem gets a boost since he's good at gaming. But other than that, he has no interest in anything else. He just started therapy for social anxiety (set up b/4 the ASD diagnosis). Is there anything else you'd recommend? Summer camp for autistic kids to build social skills? I appreciate that he's different and don't want to mold him into something he's not, but also don't want him to struggle or be misunderstood. Thank you for sharing any experiences you might have with this and what helped/didn't help.

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Hello - my son has a very similar profile. I recommend sending him to summer camp such as camp Galileo which offers some wonderful programs that helped my son transition away from gaming to other interests.Also I highly recommend taking your son on outings that help him expand his interests and develop flexibility. My son fought this but grew to love our adventures camping and exploring the woods and now he is grateful that I pushed him to do it. Children on the spectrum come with many challenges but also great strengths. If you can stay attuned to your son and help him develop his areas of strength, that will build his self esteem. Good luck! 

Hi, I'm sorry I don't have any advice to offer, but want to reach out because your situation is identical to ours.  My son is now 14 (8th grade) and was also finally diagnosed with ASD just before he turned 13.  His struggles are identical to your son's and he is extremely resistant to any types of therapies, etc. It would be great if we could at least meet for mutual support - and maybe our sons might hit it off somehow too.  We've been struggling to find him peers/friends who understand his life experience better than his neurotypical classmates that our son tends to emulate in order to appear like them.

I don't know if there's a way for the moderator to provide you with my contact info, or if there's another way to connect.  I guess I'll have to see what comes of this.  In any case, I wish you the best of luck and will also look for responses from other group members here.

My family is in the same situation, except that I have a girl and I suspected ASD and her anxiety is worse. Whoa is it hard to start on this journey in the teen years.

So far, all the best things I've found have streamed out of Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. They have a great short book called "Start Here" that I recommend highly for you and for him.

He is the same kid he's always been and that's OK. Beware of ABA, but there are other possibilities out there. Also, don't discount his interest in gaming. That may just be his thing, and if so, he needs it. 

Hi- My son was diagnosed with ASD at the beginning of his senior year in high school. His profile is different from your son's in that he wanted the diagnosis to understand himself better after being in the mental health system for years with other diagnoses and treatment that was only moderately helpful. He already had accommodations due to an anxiety diagnosis ( extended time and a few other things) that allowed him to be successful in high school and he is now enrolled at UC Berkeley and still has his accommodations and support from the Department of Rehabilitation as well as support from the disability office etc. My point is that the 504 plan will help your son be more successful in school and open up possibilities for the future. Ideally, the people who did the assessments would have been able to talk with him about his diagnoses in a way that felt empowering but since it sounds like that didn't happen perhaps you can find an ed. therapist or maybe someone at his school who can reframe it for him. I am also a teacher and strongly believe that teachers do a much better job accommodating students when we have the information about their learning profile, areas they need support etc. Good luck, it is a lot to navigate. 

You are asking great questions! My child has an almost identical arc to diagnosis of ASD at 13 and then refusing almost any assistance related to ASD/executive function/slow processing. I have found the diagnosis to be useful for me — I had never understood my child, and now I think I really have made progress. 
The most helpful parts of the 504 were:

—limiting busy work (repetitive problems to demonstrate understanding), especially in math

— matching done by teacher with high emotional IQ and tolerant kids for any group projects

— recognition by teachers that defiant behavior or shutting down is a sign of my child’s rigidity. He gets stuck when things “don’t make sense” and then can’t move on without 1:1 assistance

feel free to contact me!