The month of April is best known for the explosion of Easter Bunnies, obscene amounts of chocolate as gifts for children and a magnificent feast to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. To many people April is Easter, They plan, they organise, many months in advance sometimes, Children have the time of their lives, gorging on chocolate, receiving gifts from extended family members, but to me, April is Autism Awareness month.
So to celebrate this, I am going to dedicate my blog for a whole month to families who wish to share their Autism Journey with you. Some of these people have autism themselves, some are autistic parents to autistic children. We have teachers with autistic students and even Bloggers who want share their journey with me, which I am very grateful for.
Let me start by introducing myself, my name is Louisa and I am, mummy to Kate who is 10. Kate has Autism, Learning Difficulties, Anxiety and a Speech and Language Delay.
Kate attends a special needs school and since starting she has really thrived and has gained a lot of confidence not only in herself but also in the world around her. Not a lot phases me with regards to Autism nowadays but Puberty certainly terrified me.
Knowing that my daughters body would be changing and trying to explain that to her really worried me as I had no idea how Kate would react to these changes. My Husband and I decided that the best people to seek advice from would be her Paediatrician and her Teacher.
A plan was devised that both at home and school we would speak to Kate about her body and start to prepare her for the changes ahead. I must say Kate's teacher was an absolute super star and Kate would come home and tell us what she had learnt.
We wanted to ensure that Kate had plenty of time to process what she had learnt and digest it as it can be an incredibly frightening and stressful time for a girl, especially a girl with Autism!
We first noticed that Kate’s body was changing as she developed body odour and was developing breasts. We did worry slightly that in a class full of boys Kate would become self-conscious of her developing figure but to be totally honest she hasn’t even given then a second thought!
Currently we are in a bit of a head to head battle for Kate to start wearing a crop top under her shirt or a training bra but she finds them very restricting and we are at a stale mate. It can be a little awkward at times reminding Kate that if she needs to get changed then she can’t just take her top off wherever she is and that she needs to go into her bedroom which we call her private place and undress there.
Another big change was noticing Kate getting hairy, this bothered Kate a lot and many a time she asked why she was growing hair and she found it a little distressing as she didn’t like it. We found that reassuring her that it was just a sign that she was becoming a big girl like her big sister helped a lot and we found some books online about bodies changing but they were simply glanced at and placed back in her toy box.
Kate wasn’t a fan of the books!
Along with the changes to her body we also noticed that Kate's emotions were very erratic and her sleep was all over the place too, and we found that just listening to Kate when she was agitated or leaving her to calm down when she was angry and upset helped a lot.
As much as Kate loves attention and physical comfort such as cuddles she began to resist these in the run up to Puberty and we just went along with what she wanted until she had calmed herself down.
So we’ve dealt with boobs, body odour, mood swings and newly acquired body hair apart from spots there was one e more thing left to come and we hoped that it wouldn’t arrive for a good few years but at the tender age of 10 Kates first period arrived!
The moment I had been dreading since Kate had started developing!
No amount of reading or talking can really prepare you or your child for their first period as you never truly know how they will react.
Kate’s started last Monday after a particularly vile evening with epic mood swings followed by what seemed to be buckets full of tears. Nothing I could say or do appeared to help so I took Kate upstairs for a bath so she could relax before bed.
Well all I can say is - Kate was DELIGHTED!
As I mentioned earlier Kate has a big sister and obviously has seen the sanitary products we have in the bathroom for periods and Kate had made sense of it and unbeknown to us had actually learnt how to put a pad into her underwear herself!
The icing on the cake for Kate though was being able to write Kate P on the calendar on the date she started just like myself and her big sister do when ours arrive.
These last few years have been spent worrying about how Kate would react to Puberty but we needn’t have worried as she has taken it in her stride and just accepted it.
I couldn’t be prouder of her - she really has just got on with it.