Autism and Puberty
Navigating autism and puberty with young girls doesn’t have to be terrifying. Of course there are challenges. For those with girls overwhelmed by sight of blood, the feel of pads, or the emotional flood of PMS, it can be a tough road. But, it’s doable.
I know because I have walked it five times now. Once for me, and once for each of my daughters.
We don’t all have autism, but we all have diagnoses. My post, “Comorbidity: Life with Autism and Its Closest ‘Friends,'” lists some of our issues should you want to see them.
We struggled during this transition, but we never gave up. We all kept progressing.
Where Are the Resources for Our Kids?
The thing about autism and puberty is that there are so many kids with autism and so few resources for them. Finding those resources that do exist is a challenge unto itself. I wanted you to have a resource from someone who has lived it. Someone who has survived it.
Our Journey Through Puberty (The Condensed Version!)
So here is the deal: I am not a medical or mental health provider. I am an autist and a mom of an autist or autists (I won’t know until someone actually knows how to diagnose autism in girls who sometimes make eye contact!).
Our journey involved a little bit of everything . We experienced bleeding issues, breast lumps, lactation, yeast infections, and so much more. Once the party started, it raged on and on and on….
Raged being the key word.
From “Not So Bad…”
For me as a little girl, beginning puberty was difficult from an emotional standpoint. I didn’t have many physical issues other than painful cramps. My emotions were so out of control, though, that I would break up with my boyfriend every month when my PMS hit.
I needed to escape from anything social. Once I figured out the pattern, I was able to learn to control it, but that poor guy. He responded with kindness, understanding, and a willingness to give me space a day or two every month. A lot of space. Good man!
I guess because I didn’t struggle much with puberty when I was young, I didn’t realize what we were about to experience. In my girls, puberty took a toll that was much more physical in nature.
…To “Holy Cow!”
So Many Issues
One of my girls was a heavy bleeder. She once had a period that lasted six continuous months. Her bleeding would get so heavy she would stand up, and a puddle would form at her feet. I don’t have words for how much this scared her. It scared me as well! As her doctors scratched their heads, her bleeding continued. Fast-forward a few years, a failed IUD, and a hysteroscopy later, its better, but remains a challenge.
Another of my girls experienced lactation. Yes, lactation. What every young teenage girl wants in her life. She told me she was having a discharge. Good mom that I am, I was hoping for some type of mild infection treatable with an antibiotic. Nope. Lactation. To this day, a cause hasn’t been identified though the symptoms are much improved.
Violent mood swings? Been there. No, not just emotionally violent, physically violent. As many of you know, physical violence becomes challenging as your kiddos grow. Refusal to engage in proper hygiene? Yep, done that.
So Much Trial and Error
We have used everything from birth control pills to IUD’s, from pads and tampons to the cup and period panties.
Another fun note, an IUD does not work if you have a mobile uterus, which you probably won’t know about until you get an IUD. Nothing like having an IUD inserted only to have it removed.
A mobile uterus.
So not prepared for that in my teenage daughter. Seriously?
There were days it didn’t even feel like managing this was possible. In fact, it felt like it was going to last forever and that somehow I had lost my precious daughters. Their skills seemed to disappear before my very eyes. Their personalities seemed to change overnight.
What did I learn during the process of leading my girls through this journey? More than I ever wanted. So much more than I ever wanted.
Where are we now?
We are emerging wiser, healthier, and stronger. There is a confidence develops from surviving a journey like ours. If we can get through all this, we can get through about anything.
A strategy we employed was to keep going. I continued to teach and hold the girls accountable even when that looked questionable. The result? As they began to emerge from this transition, their skills, including the new ones, were intact. Yes!
I can’t guarantee you a perfect sunshine-and-rainbows outcome. But in the hope of helping you avoid some of the mistakes I made, I have written a free ebook on autism and puberty. I began by trying to write a post on autism and puberty, but found that there was way too much to try to fit into one post.
The free ebook (in the Free Resource Library!) shares our experiences. In the ebook, I share the strategies we used to be productive and forward moving during this tough time.
There were times we should have sought help sooner. There were conversations that should have been more direct. There were tools we could have used had we known of their existence.
While we did get it figured out (most of it!), I always wonder what it would have been like if only we had known….
What I Wish Someone Had Told Me
Most of the available information about autism and puberty will only get you part way through this process. I wish I felt comfortable sharing all this information with you in a blog post, but it’s personal. I decided to make it available to those who really need it without sharing it with the entire world. While the information in the ebook will not pave your journey in gold, it will make it easier. How I wish I had had someone to share with me the craziness of what was about to unfold as my girls began this journey!
Regardless of where you are in this process with your daughter, I hope you will take a minute to head to the FREE Resource Library. Once there, “check out” your copy of Autism and Periods: Because She’s Gonna Have ‘Em. Period. This resource covers all the “stuff” we learned and applied to get through this tough time.
Some simple things you can be doing now include:
- Continuing to strengthen your relationship with your daughter. A girl who knows and trusts you will be more likely to follow your lead even when they are uncomfortable.
- Forming good habits, including the habit of forming good habits!
- Working on identifying ALL health issues and reducing their impact. My posts, “My Strategy for the ‘Treatment’ of Autism,” and “Comorbidity: Life with Autism and It’s Closest ‘Friends,'” may help you here.
- Getting to know providers in your area (gynecologists) in case you need help.
- Learning about ALL of the different types of products that are available for this time. It is hard to believe we only had one or two things to choose from when now there are gobs!
- Developing a plan for talking to your daughter about the “stuff” that is coming so it is easier to discuss.
There’s lots to think about, but preparing will move you forward more smoothly and comfortably! Some of it is a little different because of the presence of autism, and some of it is waaayyy different, but you can absolutely do it!
Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest Board!