Autism and puberty

Last summer….it all began.

Sigh…because you know puberty isn’t already hard enough for neurotypical children ooh no mother nature decided to bless Cecelia by starting up those hormones at 7 years old…well and into 8 as her birthday is in the summer.

The hormones kicked in and things are developing.  She’s become an unpredictable walking 100 lb emotional disaster area.  Weepy, obstinate,  clingy,  hypersensitive,  loud, bossy, opinionated,  defiant little creature.

I knew hormones would start brewing with puberty but it didn’t occur to me that her hormone shifts (premenstruation) would sinc with mine.  Because when you’re a single mom dealing with “Aunt Flow” visiting with PMS and crampy bitchiness THAT is the perfect time to have a pubescent autistic daughter get all hormonal and emotional.

Truly…why not? Talk about patience trying!

At first I was in denial.  No surely it’s too soon! She’s only 8! She’s just getting a little pudgy…and it happens to be centered in her chest! Yeah! Yeah!  That’s it!!! Oh our life’s so busy…just pretend it’s not happening. ..if I ignore it…it’ll go away….

NOT! Things are still growing,  her hormones aren’t stopping. Time to face reality. ..puberty is here.


Okay time to acknowledge what’s happening.  Can’t deny it…ignoring isn’t working…pretending to be too busy isn’t making things stop.

Time to plan.  How does one prepare an autistic 8 year old girl for puberty and menstruation? 

Started off doing some online research.  Lots of reading, lots of thinking. Lots of talking to Cecelia’s “team” (teachers, therapists, staff etc.)

We’re working on social stories. I’m openly talking about menstruation and no longer hiding mine.  I do a lot of talking about what’s going on while I’m menstruating.  I know, I know…TMI?

But if I don’t talk about it…who will? We’re going to start practice periods once a month now. Originally I’d thought a preset schedule was the way to go. Set up 3 days a month and have a practice period.

But life’s not that way. Aunt Flow comes when she comes and Cecelia needs to be prepared to deal with periods in all situations.  At schools, home, therapies,  after school etc. 

So I’ve nixed the schedule and will make them happen to occur across the board so we’re all helping her and getting practice before the fateful day arrives.

Three days of practice changing pads every two hours, spontaneous texts saying she’s had a leak and needs to change her clothes. Sigh…

I meant to start over the holiday break but wanted to make sure her entire team was on board and all questions are answered.

I’d love to hear how other parents of autistic girls have dealt with this. Suggestions? Thoughts?


About annstrongheart

About me...hmmm where to start. I'm a proud single/widowed mom of two beautiful girls who currently works full time for the local Tribe. Life. Is. AWESOME!
This entry was posted in autism, Awareness, disability, family, parenting, puberty and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Autism and puberty

  1. Gemma says:

    I work with a nearly 13 year old Down’s Syndrome girl who I think is autistic (Mum is trying to get her assessed). She started her periods aged 9. Her Mum said she was very black and white with her in terms of explaining things to her. She informed her school (she attends a special needs provision) and they said she could attend a small weekly group with other girls to look in more detail about periods, puberty, body changes etc. This has been effective in helping this girl as she understands that she needs to change her pads regularly.

    I hope this helps! x

  2. Carol says:

    Dear Ann,
    Love to you and Cecilia at this transition in both of your lives. Seems to me like your practice plan is the best plan that you could have.
    My hope for you both is that the change that is happening will be gentle as possible on the both of you and ultimately bring unexpected opportunities to communicate as only a mother and daughter can.

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