The Boy is 11 now, and just within the past six months or so, he has been experiencing some significant changes to his body. He is much more private about using the bathroom and taking a shower, and I’ve been fretting about just how to talk about this stuff with him. I’m not really an expert on the boy process, you know? I always learned about the girl stuff in school – go figure. And with a mostly absent dad, and a fiance whose job it really isn’t anyway, it’s left to me to explain…
A friend mentioned that The American Girl company (that makes the dolls) has an excellent book on this subject, but alas, it’s for girls – go figure. This left me to wonder was there anything out there for boys??
Then the other day, Autism Speaks (love them or hate them, they do have awesome resources!) posted on facebook about several resources for boys with autism going through puberty. Amazing how some things just fall in your lap at the right times. I ordered two of the books, Taking Care of Myself by Mary Wrobel and The Boys’ Guide to Growing Up by Terri Couwenhoven.
Taking Care of Myself is more of a curriculum resource for teachers (primarily), focusing on hygiene and puberty. It is for both boys and girls. I am still working through it, and will do more of a full review later, but it seems to contain social story-based text that you can use in multiple formats for your child with autism.
The Boys’ Guide to Growing Up is a much shorter book, designed to be read to or with your son with a developmental disability. It focuses on the internal and external effects of puberty: changes to the body, and changes in feelings. It spends a lot of time discussing the difference between public and private, and what is OK to share publicly, and what is better done in private. It only touches on hygiene. It is written at a third grade reading level so that more boys can access the information, and it is repetitive so that main ideas are reinforced. It also has illustrations which are appropriate.
Neither of these books talks about sexuality or intercourse, which is just fine by me!
Hygiene is starting to be an issue with us, so I think using both of these books is going to be the best bet for us. But with The Boys’ Guide to Growing Up, I feel like I can have a conversation now with The Boy about the changes he is beginning to experience, and feel less like an idiot.
I’ll keep you posted.