Learn How To Help Children With Autism During Puberty
- Last Updated: Dec 8th, 2018
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Autism
Puberty is a stage where several changes occur in the body. It is the time in life when a boy or girl becomes sexually mature. These changes can be tough for anyone. Have you think about those children who become victims of autism at the same stage. It’s really challenging for kids on the autism spectrum and their families too to handle all these changes.
Puberty is a developmental stage of life that most of the people want to skip. The reason behind this that things can get weird and awkward as we begin to explore the changes in our bodies.
There are many therapies like Pinnacle Autism Therapy, ABA therapy begins which continue to work throughout their lives to help your child with autism during puberty.
When to start preparing an autistic child for puberty?
Children with autism often need more time to understand life and changes taking place in it. Now, what if your child faces trouble and is not prepared for physical changes happening in puberty? Maybe they feel confused that something is wrong with them.
Most parents deliberate about when they should start talking about puberty with their children. You might feel anxiety that your information might confuse your child that he doesn’t even need yet.
You know that you are the best person to decide how much time does he require because you spend most of the time with him. If your child has a habit like taking his clothes off. Then it would be the best change before puberty starts, and you might initiate a bit earlier.
Puberty usually begins around:
10-11 years for girls
11-13 years for boys
Puberty starts from 8-13 years in girls and 9-14 years in boys. Every child is not the same. Genetics, nutrition and social factors affect the onset of puberty. ASD has no effect when puberty starts.
What to say about puberty to your child with autism spectrum disorder?
Possibly your child has noticed that older people are physically different from him. Young children can have a beard, breasts or underarm hair during puberty.
We define puberty as when a child’s body changes into an adult body. When your child starts noticing physical differences in other people, you can talk to him or her regarding puberty. It can help your child to understand the transitions going from child to adult.
Children with autism might understand changes happening to other people. But they find it hard to apply the same to themselves.
Your child might have wrong info about some issues that you need to watch out and give him an explanation. For example, extra hair growing on the underarms, pubic area in women etc.
Why do young people on the autism spectrum find puberty difficult?
Most of the autistic children have a hard time with change. They dislike sudden changes in their life and wants the things to stay the same as their daily routine.
Most of them spend time arranging their toys or objects. Some parents have observed that when they change the position of the furniture around, their child moves it back to its original position.
In boys, when it comes to the hair growing on their legs or hair sprouting in places there wasn’t any before. These things are quite common. But something weird happens such as their penis gets hard and secrets a liquid.
When we talk about girls, they take it easy and have the same thinking as all the ways a girl’s body changes. Sometimes it is frightful for them if they don’t like change. When she undergoes menstruation, it is required to tell her about it else she will have a difficult time during this change towards womanhood.
Language and terminology useful to understand puberty for autistic children
You must be careful about how to use the languages, especially if your child takes things literally. For example, if you find your son’s voice as ‘breaking’. Instead of telling him directly, you can say in such a way that your voice is changing and will get deeper. You can also explain that usually, men’s voices are much deeper than women’s voice.
If you give your child both the formal terms as well as the everyday words for body parts, it might be useful. For example, boobs refer to breasts.
Tips to explain about puberty to an autistic child
- Explain what changes will happen to both the male and female bodies during puberty. So that they will not surprise when they see changes.
- Explain the body function inherent to being a boy, like hardening of penis, ejaculation and being a girl, like menstrual cycle, growth in the breast size.
- Explain a girl on the spectrum, it might be a wise idea to have her wear a pad for a while before she begins her menstrual cycles, so that she used to wear the sanitary pad.
- Body changes are scary for those who don’t like change but by telling them about the changes that will happen and can make it easier for them to understand.
Tips for parents
A child with autism may be delayed in other areas of development, they will experience puberty, adolescence and all that goes with that at the same time as everyone else.
This is absolutely normal and to be expected. They need extra support in these areas because of difficulties understanding social rules and less opportunity to learn from other children.
Teach what may seem obvious
Most children learn information about growing up, relationships and what it is to be a man or a woman from many different places including friends, family and, TV.
Children with autism tend not to pick up all of this information, and the information they do take on they find even more difficult to figure out, often leading to embarrassing and hurtful experiences.
To avoid this, they need things to spelt out for them. Also, don’t assume that because they can do things safely that they will be able to use this information in their real life.
Give information clearly and calmly
Use a positive tone. Don’t overload with information or language. Like: Inform them with pictures, whatever works best for the child already.
Teach a child with good language skills and use the correct words when talking to teachers or other adults, but also the words that are ok to use with their peers when there are no adults around. Be careful about language being taken literally.
It is an accessible fact that children with disabilities are vulnerable to abuse. Children on the spectrum may be even more vulnerable because of their difficulties like social interaction, a desire to be accepted socially, uncertainty about what a real friendship involves and difficulties reporting past events.
It is a parent’s natural habitat to protect their children. However, avoiding topics such as private body parts can teach the child that they are either unimportant and not be spoken about. Be aware that overprotection from sexuality and relationship education leaves children vulnerable.
Teach the difference between public and private
All children need to learn the difference between what is public and is private, including places, body parts, conversations, behavior etc. Learning this difference helps children to behave in appropriate ways and is a protective factor in abuse.
Be careful about all the rules and remember to teach that rules can change over time and why.
For example, it makes sense to teach children about sex, that sex is a private topic that they can only discuss with their parents, but what are they to do when all of their companions are talking about it in the yard in school? Avoiding such conversations or telling the teacher about this will be even more isolating for them.
Here it summarizes the conclusion about helping your child with autism during puberty. Puberty and adolescence is an amazing period of growth in the ages of 12-24 years old. This article examined the physical, emotional, social, moral, and sexual dimensions of adolescent development. Here are 5 tips for parents to help an autistic child to understand upcoming changes in their body.