Talking about personal subjects like periods (menstruation) can make some parents and children feel a little uncomfortable. But it’s a topic that needs discussing and it is important for your children to understand their bodies which can help them make good decisions about their health.
For more general information about your child’s periods and puberty, take a look at the links below:
Supporting your autistic child with starting their period may involve some extra thought as they may experience challenges, such as:
- Sensory difficulties -coping with odours, sensation of blood running, using public toilets, using sanitary products. There can also be a lack of awareness of sensation or feeling of their period, sometimes referred to as interoception
- Hygiene and self-care
- Difficulties coping with change in the body and change with periods. A person’s first period can differ from forthcoming periods; each period can be different and may change due to factors such as age or stress.
- Difficulties coping with menstruation for those who do not identify as female
- Confusion arising from lack of detailed, clear information
- Confusion from the wide range of terminology used about periods that your child may hear from other children at school or adults who use different words to describe periods
How can I prepare my autistic child?
Autistic children may need longer to understand and adjust to changes in their lives and bodies.
You can’t know exactly when your child will get their first period, so it’s a good idea to start talking about it early. If your child does not know or understand what periods are, it may cause or increase anxiety, and they may think that something is wrong with them or that they are hurt.
Some examples of helpful preparation include:
- Social Stories– These can be a useful way to help prepare your child for their period by providing a clear way of knowing what will happen in a step-by-step process
- Speak to your child about the kinds of different terminology that can be used to describe periods
- Take them through the different sanitary products available, what they look like and how to use them. You could go to the supermarket and choose some different products together, or look at these items online
- Show your child how to use the sanitary products, where they go, and also the correct method of disposal at home and when out in public
- Decide together which products suit them best
- Prepare your child for what they may feel before and during their period, explaining that everyone is different and may experience different symptoms, which can vary each month.
Examples of symptoms to prepare them for include:
- feeling angry and irritable
- having trouble concentrating
- feeling depressed, anxious, and tearful
- feeling tired or have trouble sleeping
- experiencing bloating or tummy pain
- having breast tenderness
- experiencing nausea
- having headaches
- developing spotty skin and/or greasy hair
Take a look at some of our tips and advice on helping your autistic child to manage their periods here.
- National Autistic Society- Autistic people and menstruation