FAQ from Autism Source: Puberty and Adolescence

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:

Read more here.

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