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Tips for introducing periods to girls with autism


For girls with autism, understanding and navigating the topic of periods can pose unique challenges.

Menstruation is a natural and significant milestone in a girl's life, signaling the onset of puberty and reproductive maturity. For girls with autism, understanding and navigating the topic of periods can pose unique challenges. Some of these challenges include sensory difficulties, coping with emotional changes, and difficulty with routines and transitions. It is essential to introduce this sensitive subject with empathy, tailored strategies, and individualized support to ensure these girls receive the information and guidance they need. In this article, we will be exploring effective strategies for teaching girls with autism about periods.


1. Create a comfortable and safe environment

When introducing the topic of periods, ensure that the learning environment is calm, quiet, and free from distractions. Given the sensitive nature of menstruation, it is important to prioritize the comfort of individuals while teaching them about this topic. Moreover, as some girls with autism may have sensory sensitivities, do consider their individual needs and make any necessary adjustments to the environment.


2. Use visual aids

Visual supports such as social stories, visual schedules, and diagrams can be helpful in explaining the concept of periods. Use clear and simple visuals to depict the changes that take place during menstruation and explain the process step by step.


3. Break down information into smaller parts

Girls with autism may benefit from receiving information in smaller, more manageable pieces. To facilitate understanding and engagement, it is helpful to divide the topic of periods into smaller subtopics, concentrating on one aspect at a time. Additionally, incorporating regular pauses to assess comprehension and address any questions can be beneficial.


4. Use concrete examples and hands-on activities

Utilize concrete examples and hands-on activities to enhance understanding. Examples of such activities may involve using props or interactive materials to demonstrate the use of menstrual products, providing opportunities for girls to practice with pads or tampons, or utilizing visual aids to illustrate the tracking of menstrual cycles.


5. Individualize the approach

Each girl with autism is unique, with her own specific strengths, challenges, and learning style. Adapt your teaching approach to cater to the specific needs, preferences, and abilities of each individual. Some may find visual aids beneficial, whereas others may have a stronger response to verbal explanations or written materials.


6. Talk about social rules

Establish what is appropriate social etiquette around menstruation. Children with autism may already face challenges in socializing and fitting in. By teaching them about social etiquette around menstruation, we can help reduce the stigma and isolation that can arise when they lack knowledge or understanding.


Conclusion

It is crucial to provide tailored support, education, and resources to girls with autism. By fostering understanding, promoting sensory accommodations, and implementing strategies that address their unique needs, we can help girls with autism navigate periods with greater confidence and comfort.


Written by: Hayley


References

Bennie, M. (2016, May 12). How do I prepare a girl with autism for menstruation? [web log]. Retrieved from https://autismawarenesscentre.com/


Hamilton, A., Marshal, M. P., & Murray, P. J. (2011). Autism spectrum disorders and menstruation. Journal of Adoelscent Health, 49, 443–445.


Steward, R., Crane, L., Mairi Roy, E. et al. “Life is Much More Difficult to Manage During Periods”: Autistic Experiences of Menstruation. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 4287–4292 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3664-0


Steward, R. (2021, June 22). 10 Ways To Help Your Child on the Autism Spectrum Prepare for Periods. Autism Parenting Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/ways-child-autism-prepare-periods/


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