Over 13 years focused on all things autism-related for my son who has Asperger's. He is greatly exceeding all professional predictions.
Puberty is a confusing and often uncomfortable time for everyone. Kids are experiencing many changes in their bodies and emotions which raise some embarrassing questions.
If these changes aren’t addressed and questions aren’t answered by a parent or trusted adult, the child and their peers will come up with their own answers and they usually aren’t correct ones.
Puberty and Asperger's
For children with Asperger’s, this time can cause more anxiety than the average child.
Most kids with this syndrome have an extremely difficult time with transitions and control as it is, so when their bodies start turning on them it can cause excessive stress.
Every child should have puberty explained to them by someone who cares deeply about them.
There is nothing that can be done about the changes that are taking place but if there is open communication and information about what is happening (and why), the changes will be easier to accept and handle.
This is especially true for kids with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Important Points for Kids With Asperger's
When discussing puberty and sex with a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, it is important to remember that they don’t understand metaphors or innuendo. They need to be taught all of the proper names for body parts and actions.
These kids will handle the changes to their bodies a lot better if they are warned exactly what will happen before the changes start.
People who have a child or know a child with Asperger’s Syndrome already understand the need for the proactive approach as opposed to a reactive approach. Puberty is no different. It might be the most challenging and important issue the children and their loved ones have dealt with yet.
Balancing Mood Swings
When the hormones begin to affect their emotions and aggressions it will be twice as hard for them to control their responses and behaviors. Unlike average kids, these kids work really hard at learning and implementing the appropriate social protocol on a daily basis already. There will be days when puberty will make that task even harder and it is important that they have a plan in place for dealing with it.
Sexuality and Boundaries
Another very important issue to address is the new sexual urges and attractions they will be experiencing. Some kids with Asperger’s have a difficult time with social and personal boundaries before puberty starts so it is imperative that they know their limits when it comes to the opposite gender once those feelings begin to develop.
A child with this syndrome may not understand what is going on and won’t have the information and tools to know what to do. If they cross a personal boundary with a girl at school, for example, they will get labeled, mocked, embarrassed, and feel ashamed, and could frighten the other student. It simply isn’t a good scenario for anyone involved.
They will handle all of these new changes a lot better if they understand why their hormones are going a little haywire, how it happens, and approximately when it will end.
Read More From Youmemindbody
It might be a good idea to have some books or a website ready for them to refer to.
This is a major change in their bodies and brains so it is a lot to explain for you and a lot to absorb for them. Illustrations are very helpful when discussing the biology of reproduction inside the human body.
Talk About Things One at a Time
One way to make the discussion and information process more manageable for everyone is to break it up into sections.
- Physical Changes: deeper voice, unexpected hair, acne on face and body, body and feet odor (boys) and menstruation (girls)
- Emotional Changes: new aggressive tendencies, random sadness, and crying, quick bursts of anger, impatience and rudeness, confusion, and insecurities.
- Sexual Feelings: uncontrollable erections (boys), wet dreams (boys), random fantasies and thoughts, masturbation, and being consumed with the opposite gender.
Too Much to Handle at Once
If all of these topics are introduced to the child at once, it will be almost impossible to go into detail about the changes, explore different scenarios or answer questions.
The Importance of a Puberty Plan
These topics will make most parents extremely uncomfortable so it is wise to plan and practice what will be said.
The more calm and confident the adult is during these conversations, the more the child will relax and learn.
Kids need to feel comfortable enough to approach their parent or another trusted adult again later with all of the questions and concerns that will come up during their teenage years.
Going over the basics is just the beginning of many conversations that will hopefully take place through the years.
If they feel the adult is embarrassed or uncomfortable, it will only raise their anxiety and make them feel like what is happening is a bad thing. This can lead to negative body images, shame, and self-loathing.
When To Talk About Puberty
Puberty is a marathon, not a sprint. Puberty begins slowly and continues until the late teens for most kids.
Some girls may begin the process as early as age 8 and boys typically begin as early as 10 years old.
Each person is different so it is important to be aware of the signs. Sporadic emotions and tempers are usually the first sign, followed by a change in likes and dislikes. Suddenly games, music, or movies that were their favorites are now totally lame and new interests have taken their place.
The mood swings may subside for a while after they first start and it will be easy to dismiss them as an isolated incidents. Don’t be fooled, that was a warning that puberty is on its way so get ready.
It will be most effective to open the lines of communication about puberty as soon as the signs appear. The longer it is avoided, the harder it is to get kids to listen or engage in the conversation.
They need an ally right from the beginning so they know they aren’t alone during this confusing time.
It Is Normal, It Is Ok
Most of the changes that kids experience during puberty will cause them to feel embarrassed and ashamed at times.
It is important for them to know that every human on earth goes through it and that it is a normal, necessary part of growing into the amazing adult they are meant to be.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
samowhamo on January 15, 2013:
Thank you very much roxanne that means so much to mean. :)
Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on January 15, 2013:
A cure? I certainly hope not! Asperger's doesn't need to be cured, it is truly a gift. That research money should be going to something horrific like cancer or addiction. I commend your continued search in self discovery. The wisest and calmest people are always looking inward to understand themselves and become more at peace with themselves. Good for you! :)
samowhamo on January 15, 2013:
I have learned a lot about aspergers but I am always hungry to learn more about it, it helps me to understand what I have. Some doctors are looking for a cure for it but personally I hope a cure is never found I consider it a gift of sorts.
Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 30, 2012:
Yes it is! She has brought so much awareness to Asperger's and Autism. She is inspirational for all of us!
Suzie from Carson City on July 30, 2012:
roxanne......Isn't it Asperger's that Temple Grandin has? She is quite the individual, isn't she? This is a well-written and very informative hub. UP++
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on July 28, 2012:
This hub will be incredibly helpful to anyone with an Asperger's child, or to anyone who is around one. It's so important to know how to communicate and best relate to these kids! Voted up and up!
Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 21, 2012:
Thank you ChristinS! :)
Christin Sander from Midwest on July 21, 2012:
a very thorough and informative post on communicating puberty with an Aspberger's child. I can certainly understand how that would be a great source of stress. Voted up, useful, interesting etc.
perrya on July 21, 2012:
Roxanne Lewis (author) from Washington on July 21, 2012:
Thank you Janine! When people become more informed, we become more understanding :)
Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 21, 2012:
When I student taught one of my students was a 10th grade boy with Aspergers. He was such a sweet and kind young boy, who loved to tell jokes. I remember him coming to see me every morning to share his joke of the day. That said I also remember this being his way of trying to relate to others, because he had a hard time otherwise talking and communicating with others his own age. So I can totally see and understand what you wrote about here with trying to explain puberty to a child with asperger's, because I agree that it is hard enough for them to relate and process the norm without adding more to the mix with puberty. Very well written and so informative. Have voted and shared too!