FAQ from Autism Source: Puberty and Adolescence
February 7, 2013
By Autism Source
Transitions are often difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Adapting to a new phase in life, such as puberty, can be challenging. However, preparatory activities as well as educational materials can reduce the stress of transitions, resulting in confidence and comfort during these difficult phases.
The physical and hormonal changes of the teenage years take place in every person’s body whether they have autism or not. This stage of growing up is stressful for anyone, but especially for people with autism who are more comfortable with predictability.
For strategies to help your adolescent with autism through puberty, see "Puberty and Children on the Autism Spectrum," a free informational resource from the Autism Society’s Living With Autism series.
With puberty, also comes the need to address sexuality. Appropriate sexual behavior is often learned through observation and non-verbal social cues, areas needing support in those with autism. You may like to see a presentation by Dr. Peter Gerhardt that has a number of excellent resources on sexuality for persons on the autism spectrum.
You may want also to check out the book Intimate Relationships and Sexual Health. It provides a curriculum that instructors can use to teach adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders and other social challenges about sexuality:
Another insightful resource is an article from the Autism Advocate, "Adolescent Sexuality," by Mary Joann Lang, Ph.D. She states in her article:
"Sexuality encompasses more than just the sexual act itself. Therefore, it is not enough for parents to discuss only the physiological and psychological changes their adolescent may be experiencing or will soon experience. Parents should spend time teaching their children about the values surrounding sexuality, as well, including issues of intimacy, the importance of developing a good body image and self-esteem, caring for others’ feelings and mutual respect. Further, parents need to help the child develop appropriate social interactions, so he or she can develop acceptable social skills.
Becoming involved in extracurricular school or community activities and social groups can provide an outlet for the child to channel sexual energies into healthier, more socially acceptable behaviors. With persistent, open communication and ongoing efforts by parents and educators, the awkward adolescent on the autistic spectrum can grow into a more socially adept young adult with a healthy sexual identity."
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.