‘If I knew then…’ 5 Tips for Teens with Autism

Kelly and her cat

Guest blogger Kelly Hutchins

Guest blogger Kelly Hutchins shares her five tips for young people with Autism in today’s post… things that she wishes she’d known when she was a teenager. Now a pastry chef who recently completed her studies at the French Pastry School in Chicago, Kelly is eager to share her own experience living with autism and to inspire others to do the same.  In addition to sharing her delectable confections with friends and family, Kelly is an avid cat lover, PAWS volunteer, and self-advocate.

Being a teenage girl is tough. Being a teenage girl on the autism spectrum can be brutal. Here are 5 things I wish I had known when I was in high school.

Everyone around you is just as insecure, especially the bullies.

The most insecure people are usually the biggest bullies. The only reason a person would do that is if they are insecure with themselves. I’m not excusing the actions of bullies, rather I want to reassure people who are bullied that you are stronger than the people who want to bring you down.

The two keys to success are to work hard, and be kind.

Yes, some people manage to bully their way to the top, but they are few and far between. Conan O’Brien once said “If you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen”.  And I can tell you from personal experience that this is 100% true. The bullies usually don’t make it to the top, and when they do they never stay there. Everyone you meet on the way up, you will also meet on the way down. The people who end up with real success and happiness are the ones who work hard and are kind.

Don’t be afraid to make your needs known.

Making your needs known can be very intimidating, but it gets easier with practice. You may be a minor, but it’s your life, and your future, so you deserve to at least be heard. If you need help with taking notes in class, or if you need testing accommodations, you need to tell your parents and guidance counselor.  Nothing comes of nothing, so speak up, because your needs are important.

Dressing like everybody else won’t make you happy.

Use high school and college as a time to experiment with your own personal style. If there is a time to be wild, it’s now. I spent the first two years of high school trying to look like everybody else and all it did was make me miserable.  The only way to win the game is to stop playing, and start enjoying yourself.

You are stronger than you know.

The things you now see as your weaknesses may very well turn out to be some of your greatest strengths. So embrace who you are, and speak up for others and yourself. You are not a wallflower, you are a beautiful and unique human person. You will be surprised at just how strong you really are, if you give yourself a chance.  Remember that all great people were once teenagers.


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  1. Truxedo Says:

    Good thing the knowledge and awareness about autism is growing around the communities nowadays. Understanding is a big deal for them that the community can give at anytime.

  2. Teri Ennis Says:

    Response to Patricia B. Vanderbilt Children’s hospital in Nashville will see you sooner. I’d definitely recommend you giving them a try.
    Best wishes

  3. Patricia Balentine Says:

    I’ve been waiting on a list in Chicago, Luries Children Hospital for a year. I called recently about the status for my 13 yr old being seen for Autism. Now they tell me they don’t see Autistic patients. Yes, very disappointing. I think if you don’t have private commercial insurance, you won’t get the services or support you need.

  4. Patricia Balentine Says:

    I’ve been waiting on a list at a Luries Children Hospital for a year. I called recently about the status for my 13 yr old being seen for Autism. Now they tell me they don’t see Autistic patience. Yes, very disappointing. I think if you don’t have private commercial insurance, you won’t get the services or support you need.

  5. Patricia Balentine Says:

    My 13 yrs son has Autism. He’s a good person. I don’t think he can survive without assistance. So I’ve starting to dig for information such as program and services to help him especially after high school. It seems to me if you don’t have private insurance there’s not a lot of wuality

  6. Kristin Says:

    Good morning, My daughter is autistic and stage1 diabetic as a single mom I’m struggling to find things for her to do volunteer etc. She is capable of doing something outside of her cell phone however there really isn’t anything that she can contribute a couple of hours a day or week. I’m looking for something to help her trieve into her adult years and try and make her more dependent so when I’m not here she can coexist in this world suceesfully. I would appreciate some feedback. Thanks.

  7. Haile-Meskel Zemahalo Says:

    My young son is diagnosed with Autism recently. I was worried as to whether he can be an independent adult and how I help him make his needs known. Kelly opened my eyes to see what needs to be done and when. Thanks you so much Kelly.

  8. Sharon Perry Says:

    Thank you Kelly, for sharing valuable information for young people with Autism. I am a School Psychologist and work with a few students in junior high with Autism providing counseling. I believe your story will enrich them.

    Sharon Perry


    Kelly: I love the picture of you and your cat. Your tips are so valuable. I just love the one that says “Work Hard and be Kind”. My second favorite is “Ask for what you need”. You don’t have to have autism to benefit from those tips. They work for all of us. You are an inspiration.
    You go girl.

  10. JoAnn Barbour Says:

    Kelly the article was very informative and should inspire anyone who cares to read the blog. Good for you that you have gone on to be a pastry Chief and to share your wisdom that can help others. Good Luck in your endeavors.

  11. Tori Woodbury Says:

    I can relate as I have a son with autism and always concerned if he would become a successful and independent adult. Thanks for sharing and inspiring others.

  12. Tricia Ziebell Says:

    Yes so very true, Kelly. You have certainly grown into a young woman with the utmost integrity and not to mention insight and talent. Love the pic and we look forward to seeing some more blogging from you. Ziebell family.

  13. Tula Gogolak Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences that give others advice so practical, honest and inspirational!

  14. Connie Pines Says:

    Beautiful photograph. A true and insightful perspective of your journey. Thank you for sharing with other teens who may feel the same way you did.