- A Brief Explanation of Discrete Trial Training
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome Who Present Behavioral Challenges
- Applied Behavior Analysis: A Focus on Outcomes
- A Challenge to Reframe our Thinking About Behavior
- Concerning Consequences: What Do I Do When...?
- Consequences, Behavior, and My Birds
- Don't Forget About Self Management
- Ever Had a Crisis Kind of Day?
- Movement Difference: A Closer Look at the Possibilities
- Movement Differences Among Some People with Autism: an Impetus to Re-Examine Behavioral Issues
- Observing Behavior Using A-B-C Data
- Positive Behavior Supports Creating Meaningful Life Options for People with ASD
- Ten Steps Towards Supporting Appropriate Behavior
- The Challenge of Combining Competing Input in the Classroom
- "Your Attitude Just Might Be My Biggest Barrier"
- Applied Behavior Analysis: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining
- Tips for Choosing a Provider for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- What to Consider When Looking for a Qualified ABA Provider
- “If They Could Only Tell Me What They Are Thinking.” The Need for Augmentative Communication for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Assessment Day: Questions About the Communication Development of Your Young Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Aiding Comprehension of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During One-on-One Interactions
- Can Social Pragmatic Skills Be Tested?
- Comprehension of the Message: Important Considerations for Following Directions
- First Steps and the Journey to a Diagnosis of ASD for a Child under Three
- Functional Categories of Delayed Echolalia
- Functional Categories of Immediate Echolalia
- Initial Guidelines for Developing a Communication Intervention Plan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Significant Limitations in Communication Ability
- Long and Short Term Strategies for Reducing Specific Repetitive Questions
- Successfully Using PECS with Children with ASD
- Meeting the Challenge of Social Pragmatics with Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Opportunity to Communicate: A Crucial Aspect of Fostering Communication Development
- Reading with Your School-Age Child: Building Vocabulary One Word at a Time
- Social Communication and Language Characteristics Associated with High Functioning, Verbal Children and Adults with ASD
- The 21st Century Speech Language Pathologist and Integrated Services in Classrooms
- The High Functioning Person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A "Tourist" in His Native Country
- The Role of the School Speech Language Pathologist and the Student with Autism
- Using a Visual Support to Enhance WH Question
- Visual Resources for Enhancing Communication for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities
- Visual Schedules and Choice Boards: Avoid Misinterpretation of their Primary Functions
- Visual Supports: Sources for Symbols for Receptive and Expressive Communication
- What is the Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS?
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- PICO - A Decision Making Tool For Selecting Apps
- Helping Your Child to Develop Communication Skills
- Evidence-Based Practices for Effective Communication and Social Intervention
- Important Predictors
- The Use of Technology in Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Collaborative Teaming
- Educational Programming
- Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Advice from Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Teachers Regarding Literacy Instruction
- Advice for Peer Tutors
- Applying the Ziggurat and CAPS Model in Your School District
- Aspects of Support for Learning
- A Young Adult's Guide to Deep Breathing as a Relaxation Technique: A Personalized Fact Sheet
- Can Schedule Usage Training Include Elements of Literacy Instruction?
- Clean Up Your Act! Creating an Organized Classroom Environment for Students on the Spectrum.
- Change is Good! Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum when Introducing Novelty
- Classroom Choreography: The Art of Scheduling Staff and Students
- Creating a Circle of Support
- Complexities of Instructional Support
- Critical Features of Early Intervention: Merging Best Practices
- Developing Long Term Relationships Between School and Parents
- Early Intervention for Young Children on the Autism spectrum: Parent’s Perspective
- Educating Students with Autism: Are There Differences in Placement?
- Establishing Long Term Goals: What Are We Hoping to Achieve
- For General Education Teachers: Helpful Questions to Ask About Students with ASD
- Get Engaged: Designing Instructional Activities to Help Students Stay On-Task
- "Ham It Up and Get It Cookin!!" Thoughts From Dr. Greenspan
- Home-School Communication
- "I Can Do It Myself!" Using Work Systems to Build Independence in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- “I Wake Up for MY Dream!” Personal Futures Planning Circles of Support, MAPS and PATH
- Life After High School...So Now What
- Literacy Resources
- Lovaas Revisited: Should We Have Ever Left?
- Making the Most of Morning Meeting
- Motivating Students Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Moving from Preschool to Kindergarten: Planning for a Successful Transition and New Relationships
- Peer Support Programs
- Promoting the Educational Success of Students with Autism: The Role of the Parent-Staff Relationship
- Planning for Successful Transitions Across Grade Levels
- Practical Steps to Writing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals: And Writing Them Well
- Practical Recommendations for Utilizing a Range of Instructional Approaches in General Education Settings
- Recognizing Different Types of Readers with ASD
- Reframing Our Thinking and Getting to Know the Child
- Restricted Repertoires in Autism and What We Can Do About It
- School Cultures that Support Students Across the Autism Spectrum
- Service Learning: Something to Think About
- Supporting Staff Using Coaching Model
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome
- Teaching Students Who Are Low-Functioning: Who Are They and What Should We Teach?
- Theory of Mind in Autism: Development, Implications, and Intervention
- There is No Place Called Inclusion
- The Road to Post-Secondary Education: Questions to Consider
- Tips for Teaching High-Functioning People with Autism
- Tips to Consider When Including a Student with ASD in Art, Music, or Physical Education
- Transition: Preparing for a Lifetime
- Transition to Middle School
- Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Move Successfully from One Activity to Another
- Understanding the Design and Power of a Personal Schedule
- Using Visual Schedules: A Guide for Parents
- Who Are We Working for Anyway? Avoiding Personal Agendas at Meetings to Better Support Individuals Across the Autism Spectrum
- Structured Teaching Strategies: A Series
- Growing Up Together
- How to Open A Combination Lock/Locker
- Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders Through Postsecondary Transition
- Curriculum Materials and Programs for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Implementation and Effectiveness of Using Video Self-Modeling with Students with ASD
- Video Self-Modeling How To and Examples
- Advocates: Qualities to Look for and Choosing the Correct One for YOU
- Considering an Overnight Camp Program for your Child on the Autism Spectrum?
- Finding or Starting a Support Group
- Making the Most of the Holidays for Your Family and Your Son/Daughter on the Autism Spectrum
- Selected Bibliography for Families of People within the Autism Spectrum
- Selected National Resources for Information on Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Selected Resources for Understanding and Supporting Siblings
- Setting the Stage for Parent-Professional Collaboration
- Siblings Perspectives: Some Guidelines for Parents
- What About the Dads?
- When Your Child is Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- What to Do If You Suspect Your Son/Daughter Might Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- For Parents: Preparing for the School Year
- Self Help/Medical
- Teaching a Young Man to Shave
- An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders
- The "M" Word
- Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads
- Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite:
- Taking Your Son/Daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Dentist
- Teaching a Young Woman to Shave
- Anxiety and Panic Struggles
- Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Having THE Talk with Your Child with ASD
- General Information
- Assessment Processes for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Purpose and Procedures
- Autism Awareness Month: Facts and Tips for Working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Diagnostic Criteria for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder
- Disability Information for Someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Customized Example
- Getting Started: Introducing Your Child to His or Her Diagnosis of Autism or Asperger Syndrome
- Increasing Incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Continues in Indiana
- Standardized Tests and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Article 7, Title 511
- What’s in a Name: Our Only Label Should Be Our Name: Avoiding the Stereotypes
- For Physicians: Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders and Working with Schools
- Behavioral Issues and the Use of Social Stories
- How to “Lose the Training Wheels:” A New Way to Teach Bicycle Riding
- Living in Fear: Anxiety in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Local Community Resources to Enhance Activities
- Making (and Keeping) Friends: A Model for Social Skills Instruction
- Making Camps Accessible for All
- Play in the Lives of Young Children with Autism
- Play Time: An Examination Of Play Intervention Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Social Activity Groups: Another Approach for Helping to Bridge the Friendship Gap
- Teaching Social Skills through Theatre
- The Collective Outcomes of School-Based Social Skill Interventions for Children on the Autism Spectrum
- The Value of Movement Activities for Young Children
- We All Need Exercise
- Finding a Friend in School
- Bullying and Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Incorporating Typical Peers Into the Social Learning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Articles by Temple Grandin
- An Inside View of Autism
- Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome
- Evaluating the Effects of Medication
- Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism
- Making the Transition from the World of School into the World of Work
- Social Problems: Understanding Emotions and Developing Talents
- Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism
Contribued By Melissa Dubie
At a parent group meeting, a mother asked “since my daughter’s mental age is about a third grade level, why is she starting her period? This doesn’t seem possible.” All children go through puberty regardless of IQ or social skills. The brain does not tell the body to stop growing if the boy or girl’s developmental level is younger than their age. 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 14. 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. A girls menstruation (period) usually follows within a year or two of these changes. The average age a girl starts menstruating is around 12 or 13 but some girls start as early as 9 and others are as late as 17 (Strong, DeVault, Sayad & Yarber, 2005).
For example, as a parent sees their daughter start to develop physical changes of puberty, it is essential to start talking to her about menstruation. A father called Indiana Resource Center for Autism concerned that his daughter screams loudly and runs around the room every time she sees the sight of blood even if the cut on her finger is small from a piece of paper. She doesn’t become calm until they put a bandage on the cut. How will she react about blood from her vagina? It was discussed that the term for the menstrual pad would be called a very large bandage. This language would help their daughter transition to starting to menstruate. In addition, the family decided it was going to be essential to start practicing the steps from wearing a pad to changing it regularly before the important day came. Here are some ideas to assist in that process.
- Put red food coloring in her underwear to show what the blood might look like when she starts her period.
- Have her mom model for her the steps to wearing and changing a sanitary pad. If possible, include other girls in the house as well.
- Mark the pad and panties with a different color to show where the pad should be placed in her underwear.
- Go to the store and buy a few different kinds of sanitary pads. One could try different sizes, thicknesses, wings or no wings, fragrances, and brands. View www.kotex.com to identify some of the options this company has available.
- Make a visual schedule of how often the sanitary pad should be changed. Remember her school schedule. Try to arrange the changing time with the times that she would change classes (normal breaks in the day) at school. The more the schedule is the same at home and school, the easier the transition will be.
- Watch a video on a teens health website if they want to know why the menstrual cycle is necessary: http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/girls/menstruation.html.
- If your daughter learns best with facts, go to the bookstore to buy a book on getting your period. See references at end of article. Having a full explanation of her menstrual phases may help your daughter transition to this part of her life. For others, the information may be overwhelming. As a parent you have learned what manner your daughter learns best. Apply the information you already know about her to this stage called puberty.
- Plan a celebration party for when she starts her period. Growing into a woman is exciting and should be celebrated.
For boys, the physical changes usually begin around age 13. Some boys start prematurely at age 12 while others begin as late as 17 or 18 years of age. Generally, boys’ puberty lags behind girls by two years. The secondary characteristic for boy’s includes: growth spurts, bigger hands and feet, increased muscle mass, deepened voice, facial and underarm hair, and more hair in the pubic area. Their penis and testicles also develop (Strong, DeVault, Sayad, Yarber, 2005). Like girls, it is imperative to be showering or bathing each day. Be sure to wash hair, underarms, and in genital area.
At puberty, boys begin to ejaculate semen. Many boys are unnerved by the first appearance of semen which will probably occur while sleeping (e.g., wet dreams). It is important to differentiate to your son that he is not urinating in bed. One parent shared that her son didn’t want to disappoint her because he was a “big boy” now and didn’t wet his bed. So when he started having nocturnal emissions (e.g., wet dreams), he was afraid to tell her because he thought she would be disappointed. His behavior escalated and he refused to go to bed at night. In addition, boys may have erections at odd or unplanned times. This is part of puberty and one should not be alarmed. Unplanned erections will go away during puberty.
What can parents do about these changes in boys?
- Don’t overreact or under react. Remember your son probably doesn’t have any idea of what is happening to him when he has nocturnal emissions. Change the sheets or have him help you.
- Use a calm voice. Don’t yell. Use the time to explain what is happening during puberty with your son. Relate the nocturnal emissions to other changes he is experiencing (secondary characteristics), then explain that this is part of puberty and growing into being a man.
- Go to the library or bookstore to read about how boy’s bodies change from being a teenager to a man.
- Borrow books and videos from CeDIR (Center for Disability Information and Referral at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, www.iidc.indiana.edu/cedir or 812-855-6508).
For parents, when talking about boy and girl body parts use the medical terminology. Language concepts are difficult for many individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, if they learn the word “pee pee” to mean penis when they are young it will be awkward and inappropriate for them to still be calling their male genitalia “pee pee” when they are young adults or men. It is best to start with the medical terminology from the beginning. Get used to saying the words such as penis, testicles and pubic hair for boys and vagina, breasts, and menstruation for girls. Here are other critical points to ponder:
- Before you can effectively communicate your values about sexuality to your children, you need to know what you believe and why.
- You are the main educators of sex for your son and/or daughter. Whether you are comfortable or not, wouldn’t you rather they get factual information from you than to follow a classmate’s or friend’s advice? See www.familiesaretalking.org for information.
- You must be “askable” (Gordon & Gordon, 2000). This means one should be prepared for any question or incident that involves your son or daughters sexuality. Always say, “That is a good question.” You can decide to answer the question immediately or say, “We’ll discuss it when we get home.” If you answer with a positive tone, then your child will continue to ask questions. Also, remember to answer the questions simply and directly. Don’t give too much information to your adolescent.
- Children are not perfect. They make mistakes and it’s up to us to turn their mistakes into lessons.
Remember to use the same teaching strategies that you have used to teach your children other skills. Just apply these strategies to teaching them about menstruation and nocturnal emissions as they go through puberty. Some of these strategies may include visual schedules or check off lists, videos, facts in books, pictures of what is happening to their bodies, stories to predict what might occur, or specific terminology. Think of puberty as just another stage of development. Embrace this time and move forward.
American Girl Library (1998). The care & keeping of you: The body book for girls. Middleton, WI: Pleasant Company Publications.
Crissy, P. (2005). Personal hygiene?: What’s that got to do with me? Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Gordon, S., & Gordon, J. (2000). Raising a child responsibly in a sexually permissive world. Avon, MA: Adams Media Corporation.
Gravelle, K., Castro, N., & Castro, C. (1998). What’s going on down there?: Answers to questions boys find hard to ask. New York: Walker and Company.
Gray, J., & Jilich, J. (1990). Janet’s got her period. Carlton, Australia: Social Biology Resources Centre (Available from James Stanfield Company, Santa Barbara, CA at http://www.stanfield.com).
Harris, R.H. (1994). It’s perfectly normal: Changing bodies, growing up, sex and sexual health. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
Jukes, M., (1998). Growing up it’s a girl thing: Straight talk about first bras, first periods, and your body changing. New York: Borzoi Book Publisher.
Madaras, L., & Madaras, A. (2000). The what’s happening to my body? Books for boys: A growing-up guide for parents and sons. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Loulan, J., & Worthen, B. (2001). Period: A girl’s guide. Minnetonka, MN: Book Peddlers (Also available in Spanish).
Mayle, P., (1975). “What’s happening to me?” New York, NY: Kensington Publishing.
Sexuality & disability: A resource list for those who work with, live with, or care for people with disabilities. (2004). New York: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (Available at http://www.plannedparenthood.org).
Specher, J. (Producer). (1999). Body parts & grooming. Milwaukee, WI: Anything’s Possible, Inc. [Video tape]. (Available at http://www.specialkids1.com).
Strong, B., DeVault, C., Sayad, B.W., & Yarber, W.L. (2005). Human sexuality: Diversity in contemporary America (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Stanfield, J. (Producer). (1996). Hygiene for females. Santa Barbara, CA: James Stanfield Company. [Video tape]. (Available at http://www.stanfield.com/).
Stanfield, J. (Producer). (1996). Hygiene for males. Santa Barbara, CA: James Stanfield Company. (Available at http://www.stanfield.com/).
Topics on puberty presented by Planned Parenthood. New York: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (Retrieved May 25, 2005, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/teen-talk/).
Wrobel, M. (2003). Taking care of myself: A hygiene, puberty and personal curriculum for young people with autism. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons, Inc.
Dubie, M. (2005). Puberty. The Reporter, 10(3), 3-4, 20.