Puberty in Autism & Sensory Processing Disorder

How Can I Help My Teenager with Autism or SPD To Learn About Sex, Masturbation, & Menstruation?

This post comes from one of my readers. It’s a question I’m asked quite often.
The sense of interoception (our body’s eighth sensory system) can be decreased in kids and teens with SPD. Interoception involves feelings, emotions, and internal body awareness. Sexual drive, toileting, hunger, thirst are all involved. Here’s my earlier post about interoception. Honestly, some kids are low-responsive and need more and more ‘input’ to the private areas in the form of grinding on (humping on) objects in order to achieve regulation……in the same way kids who never feel hungry stuff food in their mouths or kids who are constantly crashing need more input. Some children/teens simply crave more input or stimulation. If you have a sensory seeker, you know that some people just can not get enough of crashing, bumping, moving, and fidgeting with their bodies. They just need more sensory activity in order to get comfortable in their own body.


Here are 5 ‘Out of the Pocket’ tips to help your child/teen with his/her body awareness and other puberty-related topics:


1)    I suggest a sensory diet every two hours in an attempt to regulate his/her entire body. By ‘diet’ I do not mean food, I mean activities that are designed to provide sensory input throughout the day. For example, use a weighted blanket or lap pad. Try pushing, pulling, lifting, and carrying which help with proprioceptive input. Doing chores, push-ups, using dough or theraputty, taping worksheets to the wall so they can be completed while standing, and placing therapy/exercise bands on the legs of the chair are excellent ways to build in sensory work. Making sure your child exercises after coming home from school is also critical. Getting the energy out with physical activity is always a great idea.

2)   The thing about self-stimulation is that it’s immediately rewarding. When your child begins to self-stimulate, feelings of arousal may occur quickly. Make sure to talk about this ahead of time so your child understands what is happening to his body.

I have a free handout on my website that I created during my doctoral program.

  Read more about Interoception in our best-selling book. Available HERE from Amazon.    


3)  Here are my favorite books from my Amazon Affiliates: This book is highly recommended for females by many of my clients/readers. It has awesome reviews on Amazon. From the authors of the best-selling book for girls, this book is one of my readers’ favorites. This book is a best-seller on Amazon and right now is the number one book for boys about puberty.  


4)   Utilize FREE resources from the web. Of course, searching about sex and/or puberty might bring about some inappropriate materials. I’ve given several helpful web resources here: Your Changing Body, Answers for Boys with Autism The Autism Community in Action: Teens with ASD: Puberty Helping Your Child with Autism Through Puberty *FREE booklet download  Psychology Today: Puberty Changes Sensory Processing Disorder and the Teen Years  ….and now for one of my favorite resources…..this PDF fact sheet download about puberty and ASD 


5)  Use social stories and pictures to help teens to understand what puberty is and how their bodies may change. Topics might include periods, changes in the shape of the body, erections, wet dreams, and the changing voice. Be careful to avoid words that can be confusing. My son became very upset when I told him his voice might ‘crack.’ He thought it would actually break. I meant it might start high-pitched and then move to very low-pitch. Remember that our children/teens can be very literal.   I hope you’ve found this post helpful. I love hearing from you. Let me know if you have any more suggestions ~ especially books and other websites.  


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Many people struggle with sensory processing difficulties. Regulating emotions, knowing when to eat, drink, go to the toilet, and feeling your breathing and heart rate all depend on our internal awareness.

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