Autism Spectrum Disorders and Puberty

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Puberty


Explaining Physical and Emotional Changes

At some stage your child within the Autism Spectrum of Disorders will reach puberty. It can be a difficult time for a child and parents of a child without a disability, and so for a child with a disability like Autism it can be all the more difficult.

How do you go about explaining to an Autistic child who has difficulty in communicating and understanding, about how and why their bodies and feelings are making such a drastic change at puberty?. For girls it can be an even greater challenge as they go through major physical changes to which if they don’t understand can be a very traumatic event.

Expel Myths and Fears

For some cultures and religious beliefs this can be a very difficult situation as it can be deemed taboo to talk about such subjects, however if you want you and your child to get through this unscathed it is time to put these beliefs away. As a parent or carer of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder you have to take the approach that you have to prepare the child well in advance of the changes and attempt to make them understand or at least be prepared for what is about to come.

When you look at it in a logical way it is only something natural, it is part of who we are and even though it is considered a very personal matter you must make every attempt to make the child feel comfortable to discuss it. Even for a child without a disability this applies.

Resources and Advice

There are some disability services which can help and or guide with tips and reading material on the best methods for getting the child to understand about puberty, however they differ from state to state and country to country. However always seek out as much information as possible – don’t be shy, as it is only a natural part of life, always try to see it that way.

We can speak from experience and pass on information which helped us with our daughter’s “puberty blues”, and thanks to her mum – Liz and her foresight and no nonsense approach it was not an issue.

Recommended Books

There are three books that we used and can recommend, here are the details:

  • Secret Girls’ Business
    by Heather Pritchard, Rose Stewart, Julie Davey and Fay Angelo
  • More Secret Girls’ Business
    by Heathwer Anderson, Fay Angelo and Rose Stewart
  • Secret Boys’ Business
    by Heather Pritchard, Rose Stewart, Julie Davey and Fay Angelo

The books aim to:

  • Present a simple brief account of changes to boys and girls at puberty
  • Celebrate changes to the body
  • Dispel myths, legends and fears by presenting accurate information in a colorful, friendly format
  • Promote comfortable discussion
  • Enhance confidence and self-esteem
  • Provide hints for parents, teachers and carers.

These books are great for reading to the child, Liz started reading these books to Isy around two years before she was a teenager. Liz also made up some social stories explaining how these changes would affect Isy and what she needed to do when it happened. Liz also bought some cheap pads and showed Isy how to put them on dolls and dolls underwear so she was comfortable with the idea.

Prepare Autistic Children

The end result was when the time came Isy had no surprises, it was all exactly how she had read about it, had been told about it and was prepared for. She now can look after herself in that respect so the preparation was well worth it.

For boys it’s pretty much the same, possibly not as challenging as their situation requires somewhat less however the same principles apply. Preparation and understanding, so when the changes occur they are expecting them and know how to deal with them.

As Liz always says, with children in the Autism Spectrum of Disorders planning and preparation are the main key factors for everything. You have to give them plenty of time to soak up the information and be comfortable with the outcome.

© 2011, EJ Banon. All rights reserved.

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