Changes in our children: Puberty and Autism
We all think about it and we quiver in fear - the word all au fait parents of autistic children fear: Puberty.
While that word holds any parent prisoner, we have to remember autistic children have a harder time dealing with and understanding changes in their world; changes to their bodies are no exception. Here’s my problem with it: every doctor I’ve talked to (with the exception of Seattle Children’s Hospital) has had nothing but a shocked gawk to offer me when asked what to do, like I should be covered in tar and feathered for even thinking of what to do when my son is smack dab in the middle of puberty.
The other thing that gets me: there is no training on how to handle puberty for us parents. There are no rules to follow or tips to be given centered on your child, like they do with everything else. Of course there are books you can buy and so forth. Don’t you think that there should be something more to offer us though? I suppose like everything else we just need more doctors that care. After all, even “typical” children are forced through classes covering puberty during school. You know, that class on a female’s period and the changes a male goes through when we’re in 4th or 5th grades Their world gets turned upside down and in turn so does their behavior (in a lot of cases). When will we pay more attention to our child’s journey into maturity, into becoming an adult—why isn’t this made a priority? For the new parents of autistic children that don’t understand, here’s a sample of puberty in my world.
As a child
On November XX, 2003 I gave birth to the most beautiful bundle of chaos that’s ever been introduced into my life, Mr. Zain Mikeal. He was the sweetest little boy with the largest capacity to love. He made me a mommy, I didn’t know this world that exists beyond myself until that day, until I looked into those eyes.
During infancy Zain exhibited the following:
-Stated seizing at birth and has continued through life
-Had severe gastrointestinal issues
-He hated to be held
-He’d scratch the middle of his forehead, violently, every day
-He had started beating his head on the walls and floors
By the time he hit toddler age he was becoming an even bigger challenge, also an even bigger joy. He could make a grown man cry or laugh depending on his mood.
At this age he started exhibiting these behaviors:
-He’d spin and spin and spin, never getting dizzy
-He’d run around flapping his arms with a cape on
-Never spoke a word or maintained eye contact through his early childhood but he also never let that hold him back
-He started pulling my hair out and eating it, not his hair, only mine
-If I fell asleep he’d empty our refrigerator and line all the food up throughout the house.
-Developed a TIC disorder and SPD
-Showed a reduced sense of pain
Of the things I chose to list there was always a doctor there to offer me coping mechanisms, advice, or solutions. Where is the nationwide advice for puberty, why doesn’t every doctor have information in office? Where is our “parental safety kit” here? Where’s our children’s life line? Where’s our help?