As summer begins to fade and the days slowly begin to shorten, back-to-school season is upon us. For teens, this time of year can come with many emotions: excitement, anticipation, nervousness. For someone living with an antisocial personality disorder (APD), it can be even more challenging. Here’s what you need to know about back-to-school season and teens living with APD.
What is APD?
APD is a personality disorder that is, in popular culture or the media, otherwise known as sociopathy or psychopathy. However, these are not technical or professional terms for this mental health condition. Characteristics or symptoms of someone living with include disregard for others’ rights or feelings, lack of empathy, callousness, strong opinions and conceitedness.
APD and Building Relationships
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For teens, one of the most significant parts of school is making friends. However, for someone who exhibits signs of being callous or manipulative, it might be challenging to make friends. Or, if someone with an antisocial personality disorder does make friends, the boundaries or expectations within a friendship might be breached or unmet. They might have very little loyalty to those they have built friendships with, which could result in the degradation of those friendships over time.
For teens, this will often be met with little understanding. A person living with APD might just be seen as cruel, instead of as someone suffering from a known condition. They may be treated badly by their peers, and consequently have a very challenging day-to-day experience.
APD and Academics
It’s also important for teens in build relationships with their teachers. However, the characteristics of APD might make this relationship difficult to foster as well. This could cause their grades to suffer. Students with APD may be disruptive in a classroom, which can make it difficult for both them and their peers to learn in a safe environment. Being unable to conform to social norms within a school environment can further compound these issues.
How Can You Help?
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One of the best ways you can help your teen living with APD is to ensure they are getting the professional support they need from a mental health professional. Long-term psychotherapy is the most common treatment for APD. However, the nature of the symptoms may make it difficult for your teen to follow through with this treatment.
Communication is another step that can help build awareness and understanding. Opening up to your teen’s teachers and even parents of your teen’s friends can help others to understand the reasons for their behavior, and can also provide added support where needed. This is especially important if your teen is just starting out at a new school.
If your teen with APD is willing to share their difficulties with you, listen carefully and aim to be open and honest about their symptoms. Remember that you and your teen are not alone and that open communication is key.
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