There are lots of ways that, once your autistic child has started their periods, you can help them manage them.
Here are just some examples:
- You could help your child use a 28-day cycle calendar once menstruation has started to help with awareness and predictability about when menstruation will happen. You could colour days 1-5 in red to represent the menstrual bleeding. There are also apps available that can help your child plan for their period
- You might need to tell your child who to go to if they start their period at school- for example, a school nurse
- So that your child will know where their sanitary things are when they need them, you could decide on a particular drawer in their bedroom or bathroom, or put together a special ‘period’ box
- If your child finds visual aids helpful, you could put together a visual story board that shows the steps involved in changing sanitary products and includes the hygiene and self-care that is necessary
- You might want to get them some special toilet wipes or a flannel for cleaning themselves
- You could support them in finding an activity or special interest during this time which could help distract from any physical or emotional discomfort
- You could suggest a hot water bottle, loose clothing or comfort blanket which may help with any discomfort, such as stomach cramps
- Encourage and support them to eat a healthy, balanced diet- they may find that eating frequent smaller meals (every 2-3 hours) suits them better than eating three larger meals a day
- Support them to get plenty of sleep
- Support them by providing painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol if needed to ease any physical discomfort
Your child may want to have open discussions about their period and how they are feeling during this time, and it is important for them to feel they can do this.
Some things to consider in relation to these conversations with an autistic child include:
- Explaining that there are boundaries and appropriate social rules to consider when talking about periods
- Explaining that they may need to ask someone for a sanitary product for them to use if their period comes unexpectedly…and that this is ok
- As mentioned above, ensuring they know who to go and talk to at school or college to help deal with any issues, for example a school nurse or a support teacher they might work with, can provide further reassurance.
Take a look at our advice around supporting your autistic child with menstruation here.