My teen gets an ASD diagnosis at 17

This is what we have been going through recently. My eldest has always shown Asperger traits throughout his growing up, but has been very high functioning that it has never been a major issue to him or us as parents. He noticed himself after being at secondary school for a year or so that he ‘seemed’  different to his friends, that’s also when his lack of management skill came into play big time and and we had a discussion with him then to see if he wanted to pursue it further and get a diagnosis. At that time he said no, he didn’t want to be labelled different or have any spotlight put on him and so we helped him along with the school to get him more organised. It has also not hindered him in any way with friends, he has some great friends in the last few years that just accept him and his sometimes ‘odd’ ways and in fact it was one of those friends who encouraged him to go to his GP for help.

However, as he got older and then headed through the pressure of his GCSE’s it started to take it’s toll resulting in high levels of anxiety (which we were totally unaware about as he hid it very well under a laid back exterior) which led to a secondary period of ‘low mood’. This is when he as a 16 yr old then made an appointment with his GP and went off to discuss his ‘depression’ before telling us that he had gone and they were going to follow it up with a referral to our Children’s and Young Adults Mental Health clinic. We have supported him in his decision fully and have found out from our consultations that this high anxiety and low mood is very common in undiagnosed, high functioning, ASD cases in teens. They get to a certain age and then start to feel socially awkward and uncomfortable in a time that is turbulent for most teens anyway! This leads to the high anxiety resulting in a secondary ‘depression’.

We have since then been through the necessary assessments and he got his official diagnosis over the half term. I have emailed his Head of Learning at school to inform him of the diagnosis and arrange a meeting to see what help ‘if any’ he can get in his last year of A levels. There is an urgency to this meeting from my point of view as he has his UCAS forms to send off very soon and they need to know his requirements from school.

What I need to know is what sort of things he could be entitled to from others who are in this situation. If, at the very least, it would be nice if he qualified for some extra exam time, as his writing is atrocious and that could take the pressure of time off him as 2 of his subjects are essay based and he struggles to make his handwriting legible!

I would love to get some ideas from people in the same situation so I have an idea of what I should expect or not when I do get a school meeting.

Can you help?

4 thoughts on “My teen gets an ASD diagnosis at 17

  1. Hi. My son didn’t get his diagnosis until he was 14. Resources can be very hit and miss but if you have a supportive school he should be allowed extra exam time if it’s felt appropriate. Also ask if he can use an alpha smart for his course and exam work. My son also struggled with his handwriting and schools usually have a few for the pupils who would benefit from them (they’re like laptops to type up course work because often reading back their own writing can be tricky).

    1. Thanks Louisa, because my son is over 16 it creates a whole new set of problems for the school, we now have to go back to his consultant to try and get a letter from him stating he needs extra time and laptop ( because of the fine motor skills issue) before they can do anything 🙂

  2. Hello, my son got diagnosed when he was 13. He found it a quite relief because he didn’t realise why he felt the way he did until he got diagnosed.
    I’m guessing things are very different there in the UK (we are in Ireland). So I do hope you get help.

    1. I think he is relieved he has the diagnosis more so for the help at school and hopefully uni when he goes, as he gets use of a laptop now and gets to sit in a separate room doing his exams so he can concentrate. I think he was quite lucky though as if he had left it any longer I don’t think he would have got the diagnosis as an adult 🙂

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