Like other neurotypical children, children with autism go through the stages of puberty and will eventually begin their menstrual cycle.
However, the first-period cycle brings a huge change and shift in lifestyle, which may be overwhelming and scary for young girls on the autism spectrum.
Thus, as a parent, it is imperative to prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation and provide all the support she will need.
The first thing you must do is introduce your autistic daughter to menstruation at a young age.
Most times, children get the first period around ages 9-15 and may not know the proper steps to take.
Thus, educating your daughter on tough subjects like sex, menstruation, and puberty at a young age is essential.
Also, to adequately prepare your autistic daughter for puberty and menstruation, it is important to teach her about the female body.
Educate her on the female genitals, feminine care, and other essential concepts like personal boundaries and privacy.
Furthermore, the female body goes through a change when the menstrual period is around the corner, which tends to influence psychological and emotional well-being.
Your daughter might experience a range of emotions during her menstrual cycle and may have difficulty understanding or managing her emotions.
To prevent that, educate your autistic daughter on the emotional symptoms of menstruation.
Consider this overview for an in-depth guide on how to prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation:
Often parents find it uncomfortable to discuss subjects like puberty, sex, and menstruation with their children.
However, it is a conversation you must have to prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation, help her understand her body, and prepare her for the significant changes her body might experience.
Educate your autistic daughter on the symptoms and causes of menstruation using short and straightforward sentences.
You can highlight the frequency of menstrual cycles per month, duration per cycle, discharge before, during, and after the monthly cycle, and the results of unprotected sex after the first period.
Your autistic daughter will benefit more from your presentation if you provide a visual aid highlighting your points.
Entertain all her questions as repetitive as they might be, and ensure to reply with direct and to-the-point answers.
For more insights, you can get a book with a simplified explanation of menstruation and puberty for autistic individuals. Use information from the book to initiate questions and further discuss the topic.
To fully prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation, It is important to educate her on topics regarding the female body, such as identifying and naming the female genitals, feminine care, personal privacy, and personal boundaries.
Find teachable moments to educate your daughter about parts of the body. It could be while bathing, playing games, or playing with dolls.
You can also use social stores and visual support to teach your autistic daughter about the public and private parts of the human body.
Within the topic of public vs. private body parts, it is of utmost importance to discuss the concept of personal privacy.
Teach your daughter about the body parts that should and shouldn't be exposed in public situations.
You can also talk about actions that are inappropriate to do in the presence of others during menstruation.
Similarly, you must help your daughter learn about personal boundaries.
You can use the concept of "good touch" and "bad touch" to explain to your autistic daughter when touch can be appropriate or not.
Encourage your child to report any unwanted touch immediately.
An efficient way to prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation is to make the necessary preparations for it.
Most autistic children tend to react negatively to unpredictability or surprises.
Although it is impossible to predict your daughter's first menstrual cycle accurately, you can help make practical preparations in advance.
The first thing your daughter should know before getting her period is the different feminine hygiene products available.
There are tampons, menstrual cups, sanitary pads, sea sponges, and other products designed to manage the menstrual cycle.
Explore these options with your autistic daughter and allow her to choose whichever she feels most comfortable with.
The next step is practicing using the preferred feminine hygiene products.
Provide a visual schedule displaying the steps involved in using a sanitary pad or tampon, how to take them off, and the proper disposal method of used products.
Also, you can teach your daughter the necessary steps to take if she gets her period outside your home. If she gets her period in school, your daughter should contact the school nurse or your trusted guardian in school.
Like neurotypical children, autistic children might experience mood fluctuations and emotional symptoms before their menstrual period and during the first few days.
However, if their emotions are not managed properly, it could lead to problem behaviors.
Thus, to prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation, discuss the emotional symptoms of menstruation.
During the menstrual period, one can feel depressed, sleepy, cranky, or have trouble concentrating.
Use pictures and visuals to illustrate these potential feelings to your autistic daughter for better understanding.
Also, you can use social stories that describe your child's emotional symptoms.
It could be a personal experience or that of others.
The goal is to help your daughter know it's normal to feel a certain way so she can express her feelings healthily.
Emotional regulation is vital to manage mood fluctuations and emotional symptoms caused by the menstrual cycle.
You can provide a sensory kit or give your daughter alone time to help her cope and regulate her emotions.
If your daughters' symptoms worsen, visit the doctor for medical solutions.
Every young woman needs to practice proper hygiene, especially during the monthly cycle.
To prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation, teach her how to practice self-care and personal hygiene.
One tip you can share with your daughter is the number of times she may need to change the sanitary napkin.
The standard rule to maintain good vaginal hygiene is to change feminine products every 4-5 hours.
Leaving feminine products for longer can increase the body's susceptibility to infections, rashes, or irritation.
Also, washing the vagina properly with water after removing the sanity product is essential.
Educate your daughter on the proper way to clean up - from the vagina to the anus, not vice-versa, to avoid transmitting harmful bacteria that could cause infections.
Likewise, educate your daughter on the proper steps to discard feminine products properly.
Wrap the product properly before disposing of it to avoid spreading infections or bacteria. Do not dispose of it in the toilet to avoid toilet clogs and the spread of bacteria.
The menstrual cycle is a significant period in a girl's life cycle, especially for young autistic girls.
Autistic children often need longer to understand changes and adjust to new developments in their bodies.
You can support your autistic daughter by giving her special attention, care, and guidance and preparing her for a smooth transition into this new phase.
To adequately prepare your autistic daughter for menstruation, you should provide early education, educate her about her body, teach her hygiene practices, make practical preparations for her cycle, and discuss the emotional symptoms of menstruation.
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