Puberty: challenges for adolescents on the autism spectrum
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Puberty: challenges for adolescents on the autism spectrum

Michael Rimmington Behaviour therapist, The iMap Centre, Cheshire, and doctoral candidate, Salford University, Salford, England

Puberty can be a difficult time for many children and can present even more problems for children who have an autism diagnosis with additional social communication difficulties, restricted patterns of behaviour, sensory differences and elevated levels of anxiety. The majority of the literature on this subject examines the effects of puberty on adolescents with autism; there is a scarcity of literature on the relationship between autism and the timing of puberty.

This article discusses findings from the literature and identifies commonalities with typically developing children, as well as differences. Issues faced by girls on the autism spectrum who are experiencing puberty are also explored. Particular focus is given to the problematic sexual behaviour of adolescents on the autism spectrum and strategies to overcome this including education programmes covering sexual awareness, social skills training with healthcare professionals offering support to families.

Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2019.e1961

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Rimmington M (2019) Puberty: challenges for adolescents on the autism spectrum. Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2019.e1961

Published online: 22 July 2019

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