“Yeah buddy, I am on a call, hold on second”.
Then I heard the three words I wasn’t quite prepared for… “What is puberty?”
Once I got off the call, I walked slowly into my son’s room, trying to conjure up the right words. Words that would give him enough information, yet not overwhelm. I saw him lying on his bed, reading one of his “Big Nate” books. Apparently, the topic was raised in the pages of this tween novel.
“Mom, what’s puberty?”
I took a deep breath and responded… ”puberty is when your body changes. This happens to everyone. It means you’re growing up.”
He looked at me curious.
I was hoping it would end there, at least until I could construct a well thought out narrative.
“Like what changes”?
At this point, I needed to take seat.
“Well buddy, you grow hair in places like on your face, under your arms, and on your legs.”
“And then what?”
“Your voice gets deeper.”
I began to talk in a low man’s voice…he laughed, and went back to reading his book.
I quickly exited stage right, knowing I needed to gather some intel stat because this topic would (and should) emerge again soon.
So the type-A planner in me, started to dive into the research, knowing I had to start from scratch because a) I am not a boy and b)I had to figure out a way to deliver the information I find, in a way the Autistic brain could properly understand.
Puberty is a topic all parents are confronted with as their children grow up. However, this topic becomes a bit more complex for parents raising children with Autism.
As I mentioned in some of my past blogs, my son has sensory processing issues. He’s a sensory seeker, meaning he seeks more sensory stimulation to self-regulate. So he smells, touches, and sometimes tastes things that are deemed inappropriate. His team at school is trying to teach him about appropriate and inappropriate seeking. But you see where I am going here, right (ie. sensory seeking and the certain body sensations that come with puberty= shitshow)? Sensory challenges add just another complex layer to the puberty process.
Whatever narrative I end up delivering to Kellan, I must speak clearly to those things that might pose a challenge (ie. body hair, pimples, erections, etc.). I am just starting to put a plan in place, beginning with really simple social stories (FYI – for those of you that are unaware, social stories are simple, laid out, step-by-step story scenarios that are basically the go-to for every parent raising an autistic child). I came across this one below, which I liked. Simple enough, yet informative.
More to come on this journey towards puberty. In the meantime, wish me luck, or better yet, send booze 😉.
PS: If any of you parents care to share how you best explained puberty to your boys, I am all ears.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 9-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.