Puberty is a difficult time for many people and can be especially challenging for children on the autism spectrum. The difficulties associated with puberty may lead to aggression, lack of confidence, depression, or self-harm behaviors in individuals who are struggling to navigate their changes both physically and emotionally.
Early puberty is linked to autism. It can be difficult for parents and children to come to terms with this fact. Parents should find ways to help their child cope with the changes that are happening in their body. Read more in detail here: is early puberty linked to autism.
Few people remember puberty fondly. Puberty, on the other hand, is more than an irritation for persons with autism. Physical changes, mental disruptions, and routine adjustments may all add up to a lot of stress, particularly if they happen out of the blue.
It’s crucial to talk about autism and puberty. Discuss the situation with your kid and let him or her know what to anticipate. Don’t wait for your child’s body to alter before you intervene.
These conversations may be difficult, but they may help your kid adjust to the change gracefully.
Why Is It Necessary to Discuss Puberty?
Since birth, your child’s body has grown and altered, and those changes are likely to go unnoticed. You don’t talk about why your kid needs new shoes or larger trousers, or why her brow enlarges. Things happen, and you react to them. Puberty is a unique experience.
Puberty produces significant changes in:
Mood. Hormone variations cause your child’s mood to vary in the same manner. Strong emotions such as rage or sadness might surface, leaving a youngster befuddled about how they’re feeling and why they’re feeling that way.
Shape of the body Acne occurs when hair grows. Girls go through breast development and menstruation, while boys go through vocal changes. These changes may be perplexing for any kid, but they can be particularly distressing for children with autism.
Feelings of sexual attraction. Changes in hormones might lead to changes in how you feel about other people. Some autistic youngsters are embarrassed or anxious about their fantasies, while others get enraged when their outreach attempts aren’t reciprocated.
Changes in routine. Adjustments to daily tasks are quite unpleasant for many persons with autism. However, increasing cleanliness regulations will have an impact on a child’s life. They may have to learn how to shave, use maxi pads, and other things. Many youngsters may need assistance in learning these new skills.
From birth to maturity, parents influence their offspring, and puberty is no exception. No kid expects a parent to be flawless, but all children need assistance when they face difficulties.
Parents who discuss puberty with their children may prevent worry and uncertainty. Their discussions may assist youngsters in understanding how to maintain their health as their bodies evolve.
How to Have a Conversation with Your Child
Autism is a spectrum condition, and some children with the disorder have excellent language abilities while others do not. You’re used to your child’s communication style and what it takes to keep the dialogue going. No of where your kid sits on the autism spectrum, a few pointers may help you navigate a discussion regarding puberty and autism.
It’s a good idea to do the following throughout your presentation:
Speak loudly and clearly. Avoid euphemisms and refer to bodily parts by their anatomical names. It’s important to remember that persons with autism frequently prefer clear, explicit communication. Slang and humor may make a discussion difficult to follow.
If necessary, use visual aids. Diagrams are appreciated by some talkative youngsters, whereas others with autism do not communicate at all. Charts, images, and graphics may also provide you with something to look at when you’re feeling down.
Be ready to answer inquiries. Your youngster may have instant questions in response to your conversation. You can also receive queries later on at inconvenient times. “That is an excellent question,” for example, is a well-practiced phrase. Let’s speak about it when we’re alone at home.”
Keep your speech to a minimum. You can’t cover all there is to know about autism and puberty in one talk. Recognize that you’ll need to revisit this topic, and don’t attempt to overload your youngster right away.
Explain to your youngster that you are uncomfortable and need a break. To earn trust, be upfront and honest.
Topics to Mention That Aren’t on the List
The majority of puberty discussions revolve on physical changes. Parents explain how their children’s appearance will change as a result of hormones and growing. Children with autism may need additional time to focus on a few key things.
It’s possible that girls with autism may need to talk about menstruation. They must be aware of:
What they should do to take care of their body. The importance of sanitary product and washing instructions cannot be overstated.
Why does this happen? Bleeding is stressful, and some autistic girls fear that their bodies are faulty or broken in some way. It may be beneficial to explain the biology of menstruation.
How to get ready. A calendar or visual aid might assist girls in determining when the problem will resurface.
Boys with autism may have concerns regarding erections and midnight discharges. They may also want reassurance that these problems are not caused by unclean thoughts or damaged bodies. Instructions on how to clean up may be helpful.
Both boys and girls need privacy education. Cover:
Definitions. What are the places in your home that your family considers private? Is it true that both the bedrooms and the baths are included?
Anatomy. What areas of the body are considered private? Who should be allowed to view them? What should a youngster do if they are touched in a private location?
Acceptability. What can kids do in their spare time? What are their options in public?
Every kid is unique, and yours may want to address topics that others do not. Try to be as open and honest as possible.
Assist Your Child During Puberty
Your youngster is ready to start puberty after dealing with challenging conversations. Your task isn’t finished yet. Your child’s most important ally is you, and your direction and support are essential.
To assist your kid when he or she enters puberty:
Keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t brush off concerns or queries. Be a mentor to your youngster.
Encourage self-control. Encourage your youngster to meditate, practice yoga, or engage in physical activity. These activities may help to relax the mind and alleviate some of the pain caused by surging hormones.
Allow for additional flexibility. Independence is a requirement of adolescence. If you refuse such outlets, your youngster may act defiantly and refuse to comply with your instructions. Give your children options for meals, activities, and trips. Allow your youngster to experience some of the advantages of growing older.
When it’s necessary, step in. It’s possible that your kid may require assistance putting on a bra, replacing a sanitary pad, or changing soiled linens. With a good attitude, assist as much as possible.
There is further assistance available.
Some autistic youngsters get so worried and agitated by puberty changes that they resort to violence. Others bombard their parents with incessant, almost impossible-to-answer queries. Keep in mind that you are not on your own.
Make an appointment with a counselor to help your family get through this difficult time. A therapist may be able to assist you with:
Use published materials from the Organization for Autism Research or La Trobe University if your kid is verbal and wants to learn more. They won’t be able to take the place of your caring, one-on-one chats, but they may be able to provide your kid with the additional knowledge they need.
Get assistance if autism and puberty combine to cause aggression and outbursts despite your best efforts. Tell your therapist about your issues and seek for help on how to manage the talks. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be hesitant to ask for help.
Families Face Difficulties Coping With Autism and Puberty (April 2016). Spectrum.
Autism in Adolescents: Supporting Your Child During Puberty (September 2018). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Autism Support for Tweens and Teens Master Puberty Hygiene and Health (July 2017). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are preparing for puberty (January 2017). The Raising Children Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping parents raise
Puberty and Sex Education (April 2018). The National Autistic Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of
Answers for Boys With Autism About Their Changing Bodies (Updated December 2017). The Nemours Foundation is a non-profit organization based in New York City.
Puberty. In Action: The Autism Community
When they reach puberty, does their autism become worse? (April 11, 2011) Today’s Psychology.
a resource for puberty and adolescence (October 2014). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Self-Advocates’ Sex Ed. Autism Research Organization.
Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: A Guide to Puberty La Trobe University is a university in Melbourne, Australia.
Puberty is a time when children experience significant changes. Some of these changes can be difficult for parents to handle and lead to aggression in the child or other issues. Reference: puberty autism aggression.
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.