Menstruation - how to explain to a special kid ( girl)?

Discuss issues related to children who have special needs or learning difficulties

Menstruation - how to explain to a special kid ( girl)?

Postby struggling » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:51 am

My DD is a special child at 11 1/2 years now. I think soon will be starting her menses.

Anyone with experience - how to talk to her and explain to her in such a way that she understands, and knows what to do, especially when she is by herself? She attends special school ( mixed classes).

Her IQ level is approx at a P 1 child although she is now already 11.

Any ideas and real experiences that have worked welcome please!

Thanks in advance!

struggling
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Re: Menstruation - how to explain to a special kid ( girl)?

Postby mahes_gopal » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:59 pm

Mothers worry about how their daughters will react to the event. Will there be sensory issues around blood flow and the use of sanitary pads? How will they feel about this change in their body? Will it be painful? How do you teach hygiene around menstruation? Will menstruation be understood and accepted?

There are ways to ease the transition into menstruation. Introduce the topic of menstruation early, one to two years before you think it may occur, to get used to what it is about and how natural a process it is. Allow time to become familiar with the vocabulary around menstruation and practice routines. Have the child wear a pad from time to time to get used to the feeling of it. Teach how to put on a pad and proper disposal of pads (not in the toilet, wrapping up a used one, putting it in the wastebasket). Visual supports can help with the process of breaking down the routine into steps. A great book that addresses this topic with the use of visual supports and social stories is Mary Wrobel’s book Taking Care of Myself.

I have always liked the idea of cultures that have a rite of passage around menstruation. This makes a natural change something to look forward to and not be feared. Children on the spectrum will understand the concept of a celebration or event to look forward to. We told our daughter for the past 2 years that menstruation was a sign of growing up, moving towards independence, and making more of your own choices. Parents can create their own rites of passage. Maybe this means going to bed 15 minutes later, a little more computer time, going out for a special treat, or moving into one’s own room. The choice is yours and parents will know what will be most meaningful.


Use positive language around menstruation. How often have we heard negative connotations like “the curse”? Our own attitudes around menstruation can influence how our girls feel about it too. Children with ASD often fear change and unpredictability so it is important to make menstruation part of our dialogue with our children. Preparation and demystification of the process is key to easing anxiety.

Introduce the 28-day cycle calendar once menstruation has started to build in awareness and predictability of when menstruation will happen. People with ASD like predictability and no surprises. It may take a few cycles in order to become regular, but the calendar will provide a place to start. Colour days 1 - 5 in red to represent the menstrual bleeding. If the girl is aware of ovulation (my daughter is), you may also want to mark in ovulation on Day 14 since there is a change in discharge at that time.

Don’t forget to talk about social protocol. It’s fine to talk about menstruation, but there is a time and place. Teach those boundaries early. It is something you don’t announce each month to everyone! Establish what is appropriate social etiquette. If the child will need assistance with pads at school, make sure staff is informed. Will a particular aide be assigned to help the child at school? Talk with school about support that will be needed.

Great books for parents and children to read together that introduce menstruation, facts of life and hygiene for girls are The Body Book for Girls and It’s Perfectly Normal. Both books offer great illustrations and simple, accessible language. Don’t worry about introducing the male aspects right away because there is enough information to process that just pertains to girls.

mahes_gopal
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Re: Menstruation - how to explain to a special kid ( girl)?

Postby baligirl » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:27 pm

struggling wrote:My DD is a special child at 11 1/2 years now. I think soon will be starting her menses.

Anyone with experience - how to talk to her and explain to her in such a way that she understands, and knows what to do, especially when she is by herself? She attends special school ( mixed classes).

Her IQ level is approx at a P 1 child although she is now already 11.

Any ideas and real experiences that have worked welcome please!

Thanks in advance!


I have a word.doc '"Menstruation Story" that I can email you. Please pm me your email address if you would like to have it. :smile:

baligirl
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Re: Menstruation - how to explain to a special kid ( girl)?

Postby struggling » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:08 pm

Thanks mahes gopal and baligirl for your advice and encouragement :) :)

Much appreciated!

struggling
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Re: Menstruation - how to explain to a special kid ( girl)?

Postby baligirl » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:27 am

Hi struggling,

I received your pm and emailed you, but the email bounced. Please advice me your email address again. Thanks.

baligirl
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