Mood swings, confusion, and a whole lot of awkwardness. Puberty is just a part of growing up. For most parents, it means a messy yet manageable couple of years where their child undergoes some important changes. For parents of children on the spectrum, the challenges can be twofold. In this post, we’ll discuss autism and puberty and provide some helpful tips for parents and caregivers.
Puberty: What to Expect
Puberty is a complicated life stage where children’s bodies begin to change as they mature into teenagers and young adults. For most girls, puberty can occur between 8 and 12 years old, for boys, it tends to happen a bit later, between 10 and 15 years old. It comes with a slew of physiological changes that can also deeply affect mood, temperament, sleep patterns, and much more.
With the hormonal changes that puberty brings, your children can experience deepening voices, mood swings, hair growth, and weight loss or gain. If you’re preparing to talk to your child about puberty, be sure to consult their doctor for help and specifics, if needed. If the mood swings turn into any type of aggression or behavioral issues, practice plenty of effective reinforcement.
Along with all the hormonal changes, children on the autism spectrum can experience several symptoms that can impact their behavior and attitude. Autism is a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders with a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common include:
- Issues with social communication and language
- Heightened sensitivity to sensory stimulation
- Behavioral issues
- Problems managing emotions or anxiety
- Stimming and repetitive behaviors
Compounded with some of the side effects of puberty, children with autism can be especially impacted by the changes they go through at this age. The best thing you can do is have plenty of patience and take things slow.
Dealing with Change
When dealing with the changes puberty brings along for your child on the spectrum, starting early can help. Try your best to explain what they might be able to expect and be sure to drive home the point that it’s natural and meant to be. As they occur, offer advice and solutions when possible.
For example, puberty brings along more body odor and hair growth. Get a head start on the hygiene conversation and teach your child how to apply deodorant and stay clean. There’s a lot of confusion for kids during puberty, make sure it doesn’t evolve into shame but instead, acceptance and honesty. If there are any questions you can’t answer, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or consult teachers or other parents.For more ABA and autism-related news and tips visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter! If you have questions regarding ABA therapy services or you’re interested in visiting one of our locations, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our contact page. We’re always here to answer your questions and support your family’s needs as best as we can.