Chennai: Voice cracks? Clothes don’t fit? More facial hair? Puberty it is - when a child’s body begins to develop and change, as they become an adult.
While girls develop breasts and start their periods, boys develop a deeper voice and start to look like men.
Though special children are delayed in other areas of development, they experience puberty and adolescence at the same time as everybody else.
But many children on the autism spectrum find these body changes deeply alarming. A teen boy has to be convinced of the need for daily showers and shaving. How do you convince someone who has sensory problems to stand under water or drag a sharp razor across his face?
“Puberty is causing chaos in my son’s life as he is always confused and frustrated. It is worse because he does not know the reason why. This is resulting in physical violence,” said a worried mother. Special educators say it is very important to educate the child far before they attain puberty, as there are high chances of misinformation from his peers if he is not taught the facts first.
“Choose a time when nobody is around and ask how much your kids know about it. Children with some types of special needs, such as autism, can latch onto a particular word or phrase and use it for the rest of their lives. For this reason it is important from the very beginning to use scientific terminology for body parts and functions,” said Geetha Kumar, a special educator. She also added that one of the most important things during pu-berty for both boys and girls is to teach them what is to be done when.
“Sexual urges are very common and completely fine if they are done in private. They must know the difference of public and private in various areas including places, body parts, conversations, behaviours and online information. Learning this difference helps children behave in appropriate ways and is a protective factor in abuse,” a special educator, S. Dinesh said. He also advised to never help a special child in a task that he can complete independently.
Most mothers worry as to how their daughters will react to periods. Special educators say if they are educated before about how to wear a pad and dispose it safely even before they start menstruating, everything will be normal....