Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.
This presentation will provide a brief review of the current literature, including books and scholarly articles, regarding puberty and ASD and resources that may benefit providers and parents. The presentation will use case examples to explore how to address issues about puberty with clients with ASD and their families. Covered topics will include issues around safety, modesty, privacy, curiosity and setting appropriate boundaries in the home, school, community settings as well as the internet. In today’s complex world, parents and therapists can help teens with ASD to understand the complexities of social and legal expectations as well as clarify the safe people to give ongoing guidance to help negotiate social interactions in real life as well as on-line relationships. The discussion will include how to talk about the difficult and sensitive subjects of nudity, menstruation, sexual arousal, masturbation and nocturnal emissions. Attendees will learn strategies for how to talk about and teach individuals with ASD about body changes, and build skills of independence and responsibility for changing hygiene tasks. Adolescents are expected to have an increased understanding of how their hygiene and appearance impacts how others perceive them and react to them. Like their neuro-typical peers, teens with ASD often have crushes on others and want to date; this new interest can provide increased motivation to build interpersonal skills including improved awareness of self care as well as better social and conversational skills. The presenter will use vignettes to illustrate intervention strategies for teaching appropriate behaviors to approach the opposite sex, develop friendships, understand the social norms and unwritten rules around dating, such as teach how to give and receive compliments, and maintain conversations on a date. The presenter will review topics relating to building appropriate dating skills, teaching social and legal boundaries, developing social supports and creating opportunities to develop dating relationships, as well as deal with rejection. No discussion about puberty is complete without discussing sexuality, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, social and legal boundaries and relationships. Many teens, especially those with ASD, experience depression and anxiety, as well as fears about becoming an adult and worries about what is normal and what is not. They also face the changing expectations of family members and caregivers. The presentation will be rounded out with a discussion of the emotional changes in puberty, and how therapists, parents and other caregivers can best support their teens with ASD through this major life transition.
Content Area: Life with Autism
Nancy Cason, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist