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Autism and Mensturation

Flora, like many autistic girls has difficulties to understand and manage her period and the changes that it causes.

The start of the period, as well as the monthly management of symptoms and the change in daily routine that occurs during that time, can be a stressful experience for all girls, let alone for Flora who has to face some additional challenges. The most common challenges:


  • Communication difficulties - Flora has difficulty identifying and communicating the discomforts she may feel during her period.

  • Feeling confused - Flora can feel very confused if she has not been informed of, and is prepared for, her period. The sight of blood in her underwear may frighten her, as she might think that she is not well.

  • Sensitivity to sensory stimuli - Just before and during the period, Flora is likely to experience sensory stimuli more intensely. The challeges she may face in addition to the daily sensory needs, iclude the sight and smell of blood, the sensitivity of the skin and body, physical pains, sweating and hot flushes, as well as tolerating the use of a sanitary products.

  • Difficulty managing emotions - During her periods Flora must learn to manage mood swings and emotional symptoms such as irritability, sadness, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

  • Difficulty learning new routines - As Flora has difficulties with executive function related to decision making to complete an action, such as what to do and in what order to do it, she is likely to have difficulty learning the sequence for changing her sanitary products and remembering when to change it. In addition, she needs to track and record her period to be able to predict when the next one will come to avoid unpleasant surprises.

  • Difficulty managing change - Flora will need to learn the new skills. She will need to learn to manage the changes that occur each month, including changes in toilet use and visits, the use of period products and the instability of the period itself, for example in terms of flow. All of which may cause additional anxiety and stress.


To help Flora and any other autistic girl understand and manage their period, we can apply the following strategies:

  • First of all, ideally before the first period, it is good to explain with the help of the social story what changes occur in a girl's body when she enters puberty.

  • Explain with the help of the social story what a period is and what Flora should expect physically and emotionally when it happens to her. Here we should also include when periods come, how often they come and the flow they can have (eg heavy or light).

  • Flora must become familiar with the practical steps of the period process, such as buying, using and changing the sanitary product. It is important to begin this process well in advance of the first period, to allow Flora enough time to become well acquainted with the process and its sequence.

  • The use of visuals will make the period process much easier. Flora reads social stories about her period, uses a visual program that shows her step-by-step how to change her sanitary products and which hygiene steps to follow, she records her period in her diary or a related app, and knows when to expect her next period.


Just a reminder that the process of understanding and managing period is personal and different for every girl. It is important to observe how each girl experiences it, what her difficulties are and what her habits are.


 

We will share more tips and activities in the future, so keep visiting us.


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You can contact us at florastophasma@gmail.com if you wish to receive advice and strategies tailored to you. The online session includes the discussion and creation of the child's profile, personalized program and symbols, as well as a follow-up meeting, lasting 45-60 minutes upon payment.

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