Ok so I’ve known Michael is in puberty and has been for awhile, but the last few days I have noticed something has changed. His feelings for girls and women have changed. He is talking more about feeling “all tingly and getting goosebumps” when he sees a girl he likes and about getting excited seeing girls. He has a crush now on an older woman (he has had MANY in the past), and talks about wanting to marry her. It is still very sweet and innocent, but yet I can feel it, the undercurrent of more to come. His body is changing daily. A friend recently commented on his voice sounding deeper. He wants more independence when going places. He calls up friends and has detailed long conversations where he is not silly. But mostly, he is becoming interested slowly in other girls. He announced to me at dinner tonight that he likes girls. I told him, “I know.” I wanted to joke, since you’ve been about four. But, I sense that there is more to come. All the hormones, the meltdowns, the testing, the sometimes “surly” pre teen I am seeing is then followed by the boy who came home today and shared his very teenage type feelings with me. He was calm, collected and organized.
Another change I am noticing is that he will stop me if I try to help him by saying, “I can do it Mommy. I am a senior now. ” It’s true that he is on the senior side at school now. He is so proud of this. In fact, when he is acting out and sometimes even below his age level even with the challenges, what really works to get him to stop and think about his behavior is, “are you really being a senior now Michael?” He will quickly check his behavior, and move on. I can see by the questions he is asking, from relationship ones to world ones, that I have to go out and do more homework to be ready to answer the questions I know he will have soon. I am beginning to read up on all I can regarding autism and puberty. I want to be able to answer his questions honestly, directly and without embarrassment. Not that I am embarrassed. The body changing is a natural and beautiful thing. Love and sex are beautiful things. I don’t know how he will really understand it all, but I plan to try and do my best to see things from his perspective.
So if as a parent you see your tween or teen struggling with questions about puberty, how best can you address them? I think the best thing to do is to read up on how other adults with autism handled their own puberty experience and what they were told, for better or worse. I also think reading articles from psychologists experienced with working with exceptional kids in puberty can be another good tool, followed by using your own personal experience to make your child realize they are not alone. Now, if your experience off puberty and its explanation by family around you was negative, obviously do the opposite. If your family explained puberty in a positive way, go with that. And finally, however you answer your child, just remember to let them know their questions are normal and that you love them no matter what.
Exceptional Parents, what has been your experience if your Exceptional Child is in puberty? No matter what remember stay calm, be patient, and tell your child everything they are feeling is normal. Reassure them that you are there to help them through the challenging moments, and that there is always help out there if more intense issues arise. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.