Puberty & Periods are rarely easy. Especially not for those with sensory needs and autism. Most girls start their periods when they’re around 12, but they can start as early as 8.
This is no different for a girl on the spectrum. The way you deal with it should be. As I’ve been through this first hand with my daughter I wanted to write some tips.
I really wish I’d known all of this before my daughter got her periods.
1. Buy a Book or use a Social Story
Here are 3 really good books all available on Amazon.
Girls Only – This is the one we used
Aspergers Syndrome and Puberty by the Girl with the Curly Hair – and we also have this one!
Moods WILL change.
Be aware they could be masked by other things. If you’re going through a stressful time or event don’t automatically assume that’s the problem. It could be the tell-tale signs that “she’s going to get her period”.
Most research shows that the first periods are light and irregular. Therefore that is what I was expecting. This didn’t happen for us so be prepared for a heavy continuous flow.
Don’t expect any!
Most Autistic children don’t sleep well anyway. Combine that with having a period and it can be even worse. We found doubling up on melatonin, a lavender heated pillow, and no pressure was the best way to deal with it.
5. food cravings
Lots of Autistic people struggle with food. A sign that periods might be coming is if they start binge eating or craving food they wouldn’t normally eat. For us, it was Chocolate Muffins, but anything sugary that isn’t the norm could be a sign.
If your child is Dyspraxic or struggles with coordination you might find that changing pads is an issue. Our solution to this was during the heavy part and at night we used incontinence pants or larger pull-ups. These prevented leaks and upset and meant no struggling to get the pad in the right place. On lighter days I’m helping her practice with sanitary pads.
7. the pill
Did you know that the pill was initially invented for menstrual regulation before it was used for contraception? If you and your daughter are struggling then the pill can help to regulate periods or take them away completely. Withdrawal bleeding was only every introduced because of the Catholic Church and gynaecologists have deemed withdrawal bleeding medically unnecessary. Every girl is different and every girl will cope differently. Don’t be worried about approaching your GP for advice about the pill, everyone’s situation is different.
Periods are difficult for any girl, but it can be extremely difficult for girls with autism and sensory needs. Hopefully, these tips will help you both get through that. If you have any more tips we would love to hear them. One thing to always remember is “Be Prepared”.