PUBERTY: Preparing for Success at Home and School
Puberty is part of natural development for all children. Puberty usually starts in girls around 10-11 and boys 11-12. Menstruation for girls typically occurs between 12 and 13, while voice changes for boys is often around 15. We ALL need to have on-going discussions with the child and this is where having both home and school helping the child’s understanding is vital. Boys and girls need to know about their changes and changes in the opposite sex too (particularly, if they have opposite sex siblings or are at co-ed schools). It is important to start sharing this information with them before the changes occur otherwise the children may worry that something is wrong with them. I know some parents who talk about the changes before they happen and then as they happen their children tell them and they celebrate!
Open, honest and on-going information is most effective, and not too much information all at once! That being said some children want to know everything and that is where books can be wonderful.
As part of puberty it is vital to talk about Public, Private and Protective Behaviour. You will also need to discuss home and school behaviour and social skills. Some students will unknowingly exhibit embarrassing behaviours or share information or ask questions that are inappropriate – like asking a girl if she has her period, or a boy if he has pubic hair. I think all of us have seen those embarrassing moments and the key is to let them know when, where, who, etc – but also if they make a social mistake how to fit it up!
Make sure you let people with autism know the boundaries between illegal and legal websites. A number of people with autism have got in trouble with the Police for looking at inappropriate websites so it is VITAL we educate and let them know what is appropriate. This is where the books are so much better as you can control access to information and read together!
FANTASTIC BOOKS FOR HOME AND SCHOOL
Fantastic resources for home and school to help children with puberty and beyond – Secret Boys Business and Secret Girls Business Series. This FANTASTIC series of books has been put together by a Teacher, a Psychologist and a Youth Health Nurse.
The books are designed to prepare girls and boys for the changes to their bodies (aimed at eight year olds). They use age appropriate language and simple instructions. They have six wonderful books each designed to meet specific information needs. All the books have succinct information, delivered with fun and in bite sized chunks. They use great pictures which are factual and interesting! I highly recommend for both home and school.
Other Great Information
Contact your Local Family Planning. They have great resources and courses for kids with additional needs!
THIS BOOK IS A MUST HAVE FOR EVERY SCHOOL AND HOME
Written by autistic author Robyn Steward, this is a detailed guide for young people aged 9 to 16 on the basics of menstruation. Created in consultation with young people, an online survey and a group of medical professionals. This is a book that teaches all people about periods, which can be a scary and overwhelming issue. It is a much needed guide designed for girls with ASD (but could be used for any girl). The book has step by step photo guides and in depth instructions such as how to dispose of a pad.
Promoting the fact that everyone either has periods or knows someone who does, the book reduces the anxiety girls face in asking for help. It offers direct advice on what periods look and feel like and how to manage hygiene and pain. It also breaks up information using flaps and step-by-step photos of how to change pads and tampons, it discusses alternatives to tampons and pads, and gives information about possible sensory issues for people with autism.
This is the first book about about periods specifically for people with autism and it provides an alternative to talking about the issue, as many adults would feel uncomfortable discussing this topic in the level of detail many autistic young people will need
GREAT RESOURCES FOR PUBERTY EDUCATION
SECRET BOYS’ BUSINESS AND SECRET GIRLS’ BUSINESS SERIES
As sex education is an important aspect of a child’s development, the authors have written and published a series of puberty books to prepare and support boys and girls for puberty. For children with special needs, including intellectual disability, physical disability, communication disorder and autism, there is a series of disability puberty books. The books are easy to understand, provide practical information and have attractive illustrations to help girls and boys manage this stage of their life with confidence. Schools will find all of these puberty education books a valuable resources.