How do I talk to my child or teenager with autism about puberty?

Chantal Sicile-Kira
Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Specialist

It is important to discuss the changing male and female body in a way that your child or teen with autism can understand. Imagine how scary it must be to realize your body is going through some strange metamorphosis, but you don’t know why, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Your child with Asperger's Syndrome may have sat through classes at school. Or your child may be non-verbal. Either way, he needs to have some understanding of what is happening to his body during puberty. If left in the dark, your teen may become overly anxious and agitated. A female teenager with autism may become frightened when she starts menstruating; a male teenager with autism may panic when he has wet dreams. Visuals that include photos or drawings and simple words may be helpful, especially at the beginning. Be concrete and don’t overwhelm your child; this is certainly not a one-time talk.

*Asperger syndrome, or Asperger's, is a term that is no longer used as a formal diagnosis. In current diagnostic criteria, the syndrome is included under the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.