AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER: HOW TO TEACH ABOUT PUBERTY, RELATIONSHIPS & SEXUAL HEALTH: A 10-Step Guide by Teri KrakovichAre you a parent or caregiver of a teenager or young adult with Autism?
Confused on where to start when teaching the basics of puberty, anatomy, and sexual reproduction to your child or client?
This 10-step guide will assist you on your way, by breaking down material into straight-forward lessons that are adaptable for individuals with different levels of previous knowledge.
Autism-spectrum disorders in adolescence and adulthood: focus on sexuality.
What parent doesn't watch their "tween" become a teen without a twinge of anxiety? Factor autism into the equation, and parents may well wonder how the physical and hormonal changes of adolescence will affect their child on the spectrum. How will typical teenage rebellion look in someone who struggles with behavioral control? What will it be like traversing the social minefield of high school for someone with a social disability? Many a teen boy has had to be convinced of the need for daily showers and shaving. How do you convince someone who has sensory problems to stand under water or drag a sharp razor across his face?
Boys become men. Girls become women.
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What is executive functioning?
Here are some ideas for talking to your child about puberty, sex, sexuality and relationships, as well as links to some useful resources. By working with the school, you will help to ensure consistency between school and home explanations. You might decide that these lessons are paced inappropriately for your child. Children on the autism spectrum often need a longer period of time to adjust to and understand any changes in their lives. Your child may do things that will be considered inappropriate as an adolescent or adult, eg removing their clothes at unexpected moments. Answer honestly any questions your child has about puberty and their body.
Adolescence, the transition between childhood and adulthood, is a period of remarkable physiological, psychological and social change. A variety of physiological changes coincide with the dynamic transition, which is evident in the regulation and responsivity of the Limbic-Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical LHPA axis. Specifically, elevations in diurnal basal cortisol levels have been reported, as well as higher cortisol in response to perceived stressors. While this enhanced responsivity may help prepare the individual to adapt to increased demands and new challenges, it may also mark a time of increased vulnerability in populations already prone to enhanced physiological arousal and poor adaption to change, such as autism. To date most studies investigating the integrity of the LHPA axis in children with autism spectrum disorders ASD have shown more variable diurnal regulation and a pattern of enhanced responsivity to stress. There is also evidence of more marked reactivity over development suggesting that adolescence may be a time of increased risk for enhanced physiological arousal and social stress. The following review briefly summarizes the literature to date on autism, adolescence and salivary cortisol.
Puberty is a stage of development just like moving from being an infant to a toddler. Puberty is considered to begin around age 12 for girls and age 14 for boys. The physical changes of puberty are centered on the development of secondary characteristics and the onset of menstruation in girls and ejaculation in boys. For girls, the physical changes usually begin between ages 7 and Girls begin to have growth spurts, develop breasts, pubic and underarm hair, and have vaginal discharge. It becomes increasingly important to have good hygiene by taking a shower or bath each day, washing your hair, underarms, and vaginal area.