Kids With Asperger's and Puberty
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 Syndrome 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 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, be 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.
It might be a good idea to have some books or a web site 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 All 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.
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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 to 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.
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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 incident. 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 they 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 Nornal, 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.