For parents and caregivers of loved ones with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), addressing topics like autism hygiene skills and menstrual preparation can sometimes be challenging and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. ABA Centers of America provides helpful resources like this blog discussing autism hygiene skills and menstrual preparation in an accessible, respectful, and digestible tone.
This comprehensive guide is a thoughtful approach to applying ABA principles to successful hygienic practices for those who menstruate with autism. We will cover the basics of autism hygiene skills related to menstruation, like easy strategies to optimize more accessible learning and more comfortable conversations about menstruation for those who may or may not have difficulty understanding the concept. Additionally, we’ll explore some of the challenges ASD individuals may face as they menstruate or prepare to.
Whether your loved one already has regular periods or you seek additional support around menstruation preparation in the context of ASD, we hope this article makes the process a bit more seamless and gratifying, knowing you’re supporting your loved one’s evolving wellness needs and goals.
Exploring Menstrual Hygiene for Children with Autism
Maintaining proper autism hygiene skills can be challenging for a child on the spectrum because of the unique challenges they may face. Some children with autism struggle with hygienic practices like showering, washing hands enough, wiping properly, or disposing of waste appropriately. Fortunately, these skills can be taught and refined over time.
Families with children on the spectrum who menstruate face other matters to address and routines to teach. Staying proactive about autism hygiene keeps everyone healthy and more ready for the future.
Develop Communication Skills around Menstrual Preparation and Autism Hygiene Skills
As parents and caregivers, it is critical to have open and honest conversations with children about their body changes and how it impacts their hygiene. However, such discussions can be incredibly challenging when dealing with children with ASD, especially if they have profound autism or seem unresponsive.
Many parents are left wondering how to address common questions related to menstrual hygiene and help their children with autism develop the necessary skills. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, you can use several strategies to make conversations and practices more manageable. Using simple and age-appropriate language can make it easier for children to understand the importance of menstrual hygiene. Also, encouraging them to ask questions and utilizing sources that explain the experience can help (more information regarding visual supports below).
Additionally, it is important to encourage open and honest conversations around menstruation to reduce any associated stigma or shame. Providing loved ones with the knowledge and confidence to talk about their fears, excitement, or curiosity around menstruation preparation promotes healthier habits and limits experiences involving embarrassment or distress.
Developing menstrual hygiene skills in children with ASD often requires a thoughtful approach. Ensuring all girls understand menstrual hygiene before they begin the process is crucial. Including autism experts in your child’s healthcare team can make a massive difference.
Many licensed ABA therapy practitioners like Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) from an established ABA agency can help ensure that communication is clear, practical, and appropriate for a child with ASD. Additionally, these professionals can help you create a plan for menstrual preparation that includes positive reinforcement and addresses setbacks.
These ABA professionals are certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and understand autism to help families and children learn essential skills leading to more appropriate behavior and better daily experiences across skills beyond personal hygiene.
Utilize Visual Supports to Set Expectations
For children with autism, visual supports can help tremendously to help teach and process skills and routines, including menstrual hygiene. Using pictures and other visual aids like videos or calendars, parents and educators can coach and remind children what they need to do to support healthy menstrual care by clearly defining the steps.
For example, a picture of a menstrual pad around a child’s period can remind them to pack their pads before heading to school. A step-by-step visual guide can also help a child understand the correct order for using tampons, pads, or menstrual cups. Additionally, visuals of cleaning up after menstrual care can help neurodivergent children better understand expectations and how to dispose of waste.
Select the Appropriate Products
Every child deserves to feel comfortable and confident, especially regarding personal hygiene, like menstruation. For children on the autism spectrum, finding the right menstrual products can be more difficult because of their child’s preferences or sensory needs. Researching and finding recommended products that cater to your child’s choices is essential and has long-term benefits.
Some products ASD families have found successful include washable absorbent underwear, reusable menstrual pads, organic cotton products, and menstrual discs, which can help teens maintain their dignity and ease anxiety around menstruating. Additionally, reusable products can be affordable and eco-friendly. But they can cause more distress around clean-up.
Disposable products can make clean-up easier but add up in cost, so consider variables when selecting what’s best for your family. If you decide to use disposable brands, seek brands with low pesticide exposure that feel soft, and offer comprehensive sizing. Ensuring your child has everything they need to have a healthy period can help them stay more hygienic and feel more independent and empowered during the experience.
Parents Can Provide Support during This Time of Transition
As ASD parents navigate this time of transition, it’s essential to focus on the right things. When addressing hygiene skills related to menstruation for children with developmental uniqueness, teach the importance of minimizing exposure to germs. Encourage children to wash their hands frequently and visit the bathroom whenever they feel uncomfortable or wet.
Additionally, caregivers and teachers can involve their ASD loved ones in fun activities reinforcing good hygiene practices, such as creating games or songs to help their children remember skills.
Furthermore, ensure you keep things as comfortable as possible. Keep heating pads, coloring books, self-care items, and pain relievers (if appropriate) handy. If able, promote some physical activity like walks, stretching, and dance to help relieve uncomfortable menstrual symptoms like cramps, anxiety, or backaches.
Lastly, caregivers should always try to remain flexible as their child experiences changes in their hormones, physical body, and emotions. These changes can be anxiety provoking for any kiddo, so staying encouraging and optimistic during the process can improve their attitude around menstruation.
Establishing Autism Hygiene Skills and Menstrual Preparation Leads to Better Outcomes.
Menstrual hygiene for children with autism can be an intimidating process. Still, it’s important to remember that help and resources are available. ABA therapy can help many families through their child’s development by breaking down the basics of menstrual hygiene, improving communication skills, establishing visual supports, and finding the right products.
Menstruation with autism doesn’t have to be daunting. By taking the time to understand the various needs of your ASD child, you, as a parent, can support them during this transitional period. It can be a chance for your child’s growth, personal expansion, and new opportunities for self-care, which can be incredibly fulfilling for everyone.
ABA Centers of America Can Help
ABA Centers of America recognizes how challenging it can be to navigate puberty with a child on the spectrum, including issues other parents don’t face. We can help make the process easier for neurodivergent individuals (and their families) by enhancing their experiences and ability to connect with their world through ABA therapy.
We continually strive to equip caregivers with helpful autism services that transform their loved one’s autonomy and self-reliance. It’s also essential to remember that the ABA Centers of America expert team is specially qualified to help families with autism navigate processes like hygiene, including menstruation preparation. We recognize many families need support in these critical areas.
If you or someone you know is interested in exploring ABA therapy or discussing concerns related to autism, don’t hesitate to call now. Reach us at 844-923-4222 or click here to learn more about ABA Centers of America.