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Body awareness

Talking to your child about body awareness, sexual issues and relationships can seem quite daunting but it is important that all children and young people, including those with autism, are taught clearly and calmly in a way which they will understand. You may need to explain things very factually and clearly to young people with autism, even things that seem obvious to others.

People with ASD can have difficulty understanding body language, facial expression and tone of voice. They often have difficulties in reading social situations and are sometimes unaware that their behaviour can be inappropriate. This can lead to confusion, misunderstandings and upset. For example, some children with autism will invade other peoples’ personal space without realising that this might not be appropriate. This can lead to young people with autism being more vulnerable.

Young people with autism may be confused or worried about changes that are happening to their bodies and their feelings, especially during puberty.

There are many good sources of information and we have listed the relevant contact details below. We have also listed some tips for you to consider.

Earlier sections of this guide about communication and behaviour may also be helpful to you.

“It can also be hard for autistic people to express themselves, especially emotion. [My brother] doesn’t like people invading his personal space. This can mean that affection (hugs) is only offered when [he] feels comfortable. However, this doesn’t stand as a rule for autistic children; you may find that your sibling may be over-affectionate. At this point they need to be informed of boundaries they must abide.” (Sibling)

Need more information

Websites:

Books:

  • ‘Making Sense of Sex: a Forthright Guide to Puberty, Sex and Relationships for People with Asperger syndrome’ by Sarah Attwood
  • “The Autism friendly guide to periods” by Robyn Steward
  • The family Planning Association has three books (which are not autism-specific but for children with learning disabilities) and information relating to these can be found on their website.
  • Talking Together About Growing Up - Lorna Scott and Lesley Kerr-Edwards
  • Talking Together About Sex and Relationships - Lorna Scott and Lesley Kerr-Edwards

 
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