Welcome to the 360 method a weekly  podcast where we chat about everything  autism 360. each week we’ll be catching  you up with what’s going on in the  program chatting with team members and  talking all things mindset as well as  exploring relevant ideas that autism  parents think about this week we are  talking about puberty with our lovely  positive behavior support and mindset  coach Renee who is back to join us hello  everybody hello hello to all our lovely  parents and carers out there it’s great  to be back yay it’s lovely to have you  back  um I’m Ella I’m your host  um and it is so lovely to have you with  us listers I’m an Autism 360 veteran  coach Explorer of all things parenting  support  um and it’s lovely to chat about this  topic that so many parents I think have  um have difficulty with getting enough  information and resources on so please  let us know is this helpful we care  about your thoughts and experiences and  feedback so please do drop us a line at  hello we’d love your feedback  whether you’re a program member or not  so before we get started with chatting  about all things puberty  um I’d like to acknowledge the gadigal  people of the era Nation on Whose land I  live and work and from where this  podcast is being broadcast today and  also just make the disclaimer this  podcast does not substitute for medical  advice if you have concerns about  yourself or about your team please do  contact medical assistants so Renee  you’re a Teen Mom  yes I know not a Teen Mom a mum of teens  yes and that that’s a very different  whole different category Ella but yes I  do I have a 17 year old and a 13 year  old so definitely in the teen years yeah  absolutely and I think  um it’s one that lots of I guess parents  in general but specifically autism  parents don’t have a lot of resources it  seems like there’s far more available  for much younger kids in terms of advice  and support have you noticed you’ve been  saying that absolutely and I think even  with




the government support there’s  a lot more for younger children as well  so I I think there’s definitely a big  need for that support and advice for  people navigating because it’s such a  tricky time to navigate as it is  um let alone you know knowing well is  this something that a neurotypical child  will be doing or if what what’s you know  what do we expect here and how do we  manage all of those things it’s  definitely a bit of a a Minefield and I  think a lot of parents feel quite  nervous about those years those teenage  years and how do we get through that so  there’s just a lot of influences  obviously with high school and peer  pressure and hormones so many things all  at once and a lot of pressures as well  so it’s a it’s a great topic today  yeah absolutely and um I’ve been doing a  lot of research into what the research  says about the experience of autistic  teens  um I guess kind of in comparison to a  typically developing team but also  um the variety of experiences sort of  between different autistic teams or  different  um neurodivergent teens and what’s  really interesting is that  um physiologically the the things that  are going on for autistic teens  um neurodiverse teens are the same as  for their neurotypical  counterparts and neurotypical change so  any physical changes hormonal changes  those sorts of things they’re very much  the same and they’re very much happening  at the same chronological age so the  hormonal  um changes the endocrine changes that  are going on for for t for teenagers  they typically start around eight which  is quite early you know I think it’s a  lot earlier than people think  um and you might not start to see any  physical signs of maturation or bodily  changes until a few years later but  um you know autistic eight-year-olds are  having those same changes that uh that  that are going on for their typical  peers but may be unequipped in the same  way or don’t have the same  um types of capacity to understand  what’s going on and I think that that’s  where things can get really tricky  absolutely I think having those skills  to be able to cope and manage you know  all those things is is really what we  need to continue to work on  yeah absolutely and I think  um I’ll give a little bit of context for  for families who are who are looking to  to uh  kind of understand this area a little  bit better  um and then Renee you can come in with  your um your specific strategies they’re  they’re kind of three main areas of  change that go on  um for teams Autistic or non-autistic  they’re physical  they’re neural and they’re cognitive  um so your physical changes are the ones  that you know everybody knows about  about all the um you know the bodily  things that are going on your neural is  um a little bit more under the surface  right so what got what what’s going on  for your team during puberty is actually  similar to what’s going on for them  neurally when they’re an infant and a  toddler the process is called neuronal  pruning and what that means is that it’s  the it’s the biggest uh apart from  infancy  um it’s the biggest time of neuronal  change  um within the human lifespan trajectory  isn’t that amazing and  um what’s going on is that their  um their neuronal Pathways the things  that solidify behavior that solidify  thought patterns that  um really Drive  um behavioral patterns are becoming more  concrete and they’re also doing what’s  called pruning of those unused  um neurons so anything that’s not really  being used will be reallocated in terms  of neural capacity which is really  amazing  um and but what it also drives is that  last category of change which is the  cognitive category  and so that’s why we start seeing things  like uh  higher order thinking skills coming more  into play or  um kind of abstract reasoning  um empathy starts to deepen




kind of deeper uh questioning about  their own identity and their place in  the world and those sorts of things  start to happen because these neural  um these neural pruning mechanisms are  going on so that’s why we’re getting a  whole bunch of physical changes at the  same time as getting a whole bunch of  complicated thoughts and emotions and  all those kinds of things  um so that’s kind of I wanted to give  parents the context that what’s going on  physically for your teen is very much  the same as what’s going on for a  neurotypical team which is great for us  because it means that we can access you  know any of the resources that are about  physical changes that are available for  the kind of public more broadly you can  use to help  um you know explain things to your  artistic team where things are going to  be a little bit different is in the way  that they’re um their social and  cognitive  um life might change and so that’s why  teens might need a bit more support what  do you think about that Renee I think  that’s great news  um because really it helps parents  understand that okay really it comes  down to those things that we can help  support them with help those behaviors  help learn those skills to be able to  deal with emotions and all those you  know hormonal changes that are going on  which is normal for every teenager uh as  you said so really it comes down to our  ability to really manage that and um  they’re the sorts of skills that we can  help them build as well which is  fantastic so  um you know my tips around that would be  really you know emotions are quite high  at that time  um sometimes you might have noticed like  the girls become a little bit more  emotional at times maybe your boys are  becoming a little bit more you know that  testosterone seems to be heightened  um so that is a big thing and I think  that there’s so many things going on at  once as you said Ella and the hormones  and the emotions can be very  um you know strong at that time so  really working with them to manage their  emotions I think is really important to  learn how to teach them those skills of  how to identify how they’re feeling to  start with which is a big thing  um you know identifying our emotions is  a big part of solving the problem and I  had a parent I was working with this  week actually whose son was getting very  aggressive and explosive with his  emotions and communicating and we looked  at I said well you know where do you  think this could be coming from what’s  the function of this behavior and that  reason of why he’s feeling like that and  she said you know what I think it is I  think he doesn’t feel under stored I  think he feels that people don’t  understand him and he’s not feeling  heard so as soon as we looked at that we  were able to address that actual issue  and put our finger on okay this is where  this is coming from this has been an  ongoing thing he’s our teenager so we’re  working on those behaviors and from that




I said to her you know what do you  say in those moments and the thing she  was saying was very good she’s actually  a mental health worker but some of those  comments I said could be a bit  triggering for him why don’t you ask him  what would he like to hear from you in  that time first of all what is it that  you’re feeling at those times when he’s  calm obviously they had that  conversation he said I do feel like I  get very defensive because I don’t feel  like people understand me so she said to  him what would you like from me in those  times because you know I want you to  feel understood so he actually told her  what he needed and from that she’s not  only got the terminology of what to say  to him or what he needs to hear but he  she knows now what he’s wanting and  because he helped come up with the  solution he can’t you know there’s that  element of ownership it’s like well  mum’s doing what I’ve asked her to do so  he started to calm down and communicate  with her so much better which is  fantastic and  um it’s such a good outcome because you  know not only has he helped identify how  he was feeling what the problem was he’s  identified what he needed from from her  and his family uh he’s learned how to  solve a problem like come up with his  own solution to this problem that he was  feeling and he’s got ownership he’s got  buy into now this solution that they  both have so that’s just a really good  example I think of how we can Empower  our young people to say you know how  you’re feeling what is going on for you  and what is it that you need at that  time and rather than us telling them  what to do or telling them to calm down  which sometimes can be a triggering just  calm down sometimes that’s the last  thing that you want to hear when you’re  upset so you know it really helped  changing their relationship which is  wonderful and the interesting thing he  has a repetitive behavior and he would  say the same thing over and over in  different ways and she said again I  think it’s because he thinks people  don’t understand him and he’s sort of  it’s it has affected him socially  because it’s obviously a bit off-putting  for people when he’s saying this  repetitively so she said what do you  need when you’re feeling like that and  he said you know what I just need a hug  which was really interesting that it  wasn’t what he wanted to hear that I’ve  been heard it was actually I just need a  hug at that time so how awesome is that  they’ve now got some strategies that  they’ve developed together and it’s  changing their relationship so I just  think be aware of those things you know  just talk to your um to talk to your  teenage child out in and help them come  up with this solutions okay you’re  feeling like this what is it that you  know what what could we do or what could  you do to help you feel better or what  do you need from us  um or me as the parents so those you  know helping them learn how to solve  their own problems in life is an amazing  skill and once they learn how to do that  you know that really changes the ball  game so  um really good skills to teach them and  empowering them as well uh so I think  that’s really super important uh Ella  what what do you think  yeah I know that that the teen was able  to come to the party and sort of  collaboratively problem solve  um that thing I think  um teams  you know that’s what coming into a bit  more of an understanding of themselves  and um a bit more of an understanding of  themselves as an individual as separate  from their parents is a really big part  of being a teenager and a lot of  you know frustration based struggles  that teens have is is when parents and  carers you know  or at least the team feels that parents  and carers aren’t giving them the  autonomy that they feel like they should  um and I think going into a kind of  discussion around this thing when not in  the moment not when somebody’s escalated  but when everybody’s um nice and  regulated having that sort of  collaborative approach helps communicate  to your team yes like I trust you to  come with me on this journey as an equal  as somebody who can problem solve for  themselves as an emerging adult I’m not  going to dictate to you how we’re going  to solve this problem because I know  that you have this burgeoning  Independence that you want to that you  want to Foster thumbs up  yeah so yes rather than that this is how  you should be doing it it’s like I think  that that’s the last thing is they want  us telling them what what something else  to do so yeah absolutely that  Independence really important so  um yeah so look the other thing is um  you know research has shown that I’m  around 72 percent of teenagers with  autism actually do experience depression  and anxiety during these years so  there’s a lot you know a lot of big  things going on within them internally  and one of the things I think really is  important is to make sure that well  first of all we’re aware of those things  keeping our eye out for it to start with  um but you know sometimes just those  basic structures like sleep okay what  time are your children getting to sleep  at night  um having those routines in place of  going to bed at us at the same time or a  certain time  um waking up at a certain time each day  and I think sometimes when especially if  they’re not going to they’re being




homescored they may be lacking a lot of  that structure that we all thrive on so  I had a a teenage boy that he he wasn’t  going to school he was being  homeschooled so he lost all that  structure uh he wanted to get back to  school but he was struggling to you know  get get that happening because of  anxiety and things like that so I said  you need to set up a routine we need to  develop a structure here and so he just  ran with it was like he he just went so  he did his own Google Calendar  um he’s worked out his whole day what  time are you going to go to bed at night  he made the decision I’m going to go to  bed at this time he’s set up a thing to  stop his games and things like that he’s  now getting up in the morning he’s going  to school consistently but he’s taken  ownership of this calendar it was just  so good to see and as a result of that  he’s um things are going better with  friendships  um he’s feeling better about himself  he’s now been offered to go to the gym  with some friends and he even got  offered a job by one of his friends and  and he’s actually got selective mutism  so it’s like it’s just like such an  amazing thing to see that but that  structure has just given him this this  you know feeling of I’m in control of of  my life rather than that lack of it gets  very overwhelming and you know we all  thrive on that our body outside you know  sleep rhythms all of that we need to  really be aware of that so I would just  say to parents really monitor that with  your children make sure they’re getting  sleep had a good time getting up at a  certain time they’ve got structure in  there in their life and maybe see if  they want to develop their own calendar  they they might really love that so  that’s something I think is really  important  um you know exercising obviously very  good for anxiety as well if you know  make sure they are doing that make sure  they’ve got a way to you know get out  those all those emotions  um in a positive way as well so  um and then the last thing ill I think  self-esteem is something that can often  take a bit of a um a hit at those ages  people are comparing themselves to their  peers there’s a lot of social media  influence about what I should look like  all of that so you know I would be  really teaching them from a young age  about self-love but if if not really  make sure that you know you look at some  self-love activities with them about  what are those messages they’re saying  to themselves over and over maybe  they’re quite negative you know maybe at  some fat I’m this on that I’m you know  I’m not good enough we need to turn that  around and really teach them how to  start saying positive things to  themselves and and looking in the mirror  like even if they could learn to say one  thing that they like about themselves  when they look in the mirror that can  start to turn that around you know we  can obviously take self-love a lot  further but I think with teenagers it’s  just like perhaps just a few of those  small things like let’s have some  positive affirmations that you say to  yourself  um let’s make sure we’re reinforcing  those things to them because they  probably need to hear it even if they  are a bit resistant deep down I’m sure  that they’re looking for that more than  ever and also teaching them how to just  do some nice self-love things for  themselves as well which is something  that everybody needs but particularly at  that age where things are you know  really  um I think heightened even more in terms  of where we sit socially and where we  fit into the world as well yeah yeah  absolutely it’s um something that I  think can be tricky




for  um autistic teens who do struggle with  maybe some social understanding  um is that  um you know relationships can get much  more complex with peers with siblings  around that time they can be much more  going on and it can be much more subtle  um and I think uh giving them a way to  communicate around those things can make  it can make a massive difference  um there is some um apparent question  that I wanted to ask you this week which  is from CC in Singapore and she’s asking  my 13 year old daughter has become very  secretive about what she’s doing on the  internet do you have any ideas about how  I should handle this  yes it’s a very common one actually and  something that I yeah and a lot of them  are very  um very defensive about you looking at  their phone and I think if they are  that’s that’s a bit of a red flag in  itself but definitely keeping on top of  that having some rules about you know  what like managing the phone and or  technology so that you can keep an eye  on what what they’re looking at what  they’re being exposed to the worst thing  is to really just not be aware at all  because it’s it’s one of those things  that they’re so easily influenced at  that time so I think you know keeping  keeping on top of that from an early age  is important uh communicating with them  as well is something that I think we  need to keep those lines of  communication open so our children do  feel like they can talk to us if they’re  unsure about something and and they feel  like it’s a safe place to do that  they’re not going to feel judged they’re  not going to get in you know a huge  amount of trouble obviously depending on  what it is but I think just them feeling  like they can trust you to say hey I saw  this online or you know make sure that  they can check in with you as well as  some is really important and I think you  know sex is a big thing that I I’ve  spoken to my children about because  they’re exposed to so many things online  that we never had growing up ever and  it’s the amount of exposure that they  have to sex and all of that is is out of  control and it’s a really hard one for  us to control so I think we need to say  to them hey look these things that  you’re seeing this is not a normal  relationship this is not what is  expected or how a loving couple is with  each other because I think I wanted to  make sure that my daughter knew that  that is not how you get treated if  you’re seeing something you know between  a man and a woman and the same with my  son I wanted to make sure that he knew  that that’s you know that’s not how it  is in the real world in terms of a  loving relationship with a woman because  obviously some of the things that  they’re seeing is quite degrading at  times as well so I think you know it’s  an uncomfortable Topic in in a way to  deal with with our children but it’s a  really important one so that they know  what what is a normal healthy  relationship sexually and what what is  not that you’re just seeing online and  you know if there’s porn and things like  that that they they may just get exposed  to it’s hard to control all of those  things so  um control it as much as you can  obviously and let them know that you  trust them okay I think that that  element of trust so that they do feel  like okay I’ve got some responsibility  here but keep an eye on it and then keep  the communication channels very open so  that they can check in with you about  things and um obviously have those  conversations about sex you really have  to address that at this age and it’s  something that if you don’t have that  influence on them they learn learning  from the the internet  um a lot of the time you can’t just rely  on school to teach them all those things  so I think that’s a really important  topic to address as well yeah I think  there’s some wild statistic that like  nine out like nine out of ten  eight-year-olds have already seen porn  or something wild  um people sort of think okay well  you know as the internet age develops as  kids become more um digitally literate  the amount of of the of control avenues  that we have to to kind of Shield them  until they’re developmentally ready to  engage with those things gets less and  less so I guess I guess specifically for  cc in relation to this question  who does your daughter have a place that  she can come to you where she isn’t  feeling judged about what she’s going to  bring to you that she’s struggling with  so how are you um what is your tone your  body language your facial expression  telling her about the way you feel about  what she’s saying to you because all of  those things  can communicate to a team that they  aren’t safe bringing things to you so  really look at  how you’re constructing what I like to




call a safe harbor metaphor for your  home that it doesn’t matter what’s going  on out in the world it doesn’t matter  what’s going on out there in the  internet that your home is their Safe  Harbor they can come there and know that  nothing they do is going to make you  love them any less  um and they can bring anything to you  um and so be really active in the way  that you cultivate that  um and you should see a little bit of  um a little bit more freedom at least of  communication from your daughter  absolutely that’s so important Ella and  I think that the other thing to be  mindful and talk to them about is  sending photos online this is a really  big issue and the laws in Australia  actually if you get send a photo to  someone under age or even if they send  it to you you can actually be charged so  it’s really amazing that the laws um  it’s so stretched and they do teach them  this in our schools here in Australia  but I’m you know obviously it differs  worldwide but that is something that  they really need to be aware of but also  once that’s out there it’s out there  forever so uh really talking to them  about how to deal with those situations  as well from a young age is very  important as well  absolutely I think um this topic is  something that will probably come back  to  um in upcoming episodes maybe a few  episodes on I don’t


know puberty and  Independence or puberty and getting a  job or that kind of thing so if you’re a  listener and you’d like to hear that  please do let us know thank you for  coming and chatting with me today thank  you thank you it’s so good to be back I  love it and  um yeah well done to all the parents  listening I mean obviously you wouldn’t  be here if you weren’t amazing parent so  and carers and I just really acknowledge  you for what you’re doing uh keep going  because it’s sometimes we feel like is  is it working or are these things I’m  doing but you know what it all these  little steps is like compounding  interest and all the things you’re doing  really do pay off so say keep up the  great work yeah yeah absolutely  um thank you so much for joining us  today lovely listeners  um we appreciate you and we appreciate  you being here so if you um have any  more questions for Renee or for myself  please do drop us an email  um and we will chat next week about  another interest oh next week I have  um a dietitian on to talk about  um autism and uh dietetics and nutrition  and all that exciting stuff so that’s  next week’s podcast so until then think  360.  thank you

 Let's talk Puberty with Ella and Renae
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Let's talk Puberty with Ella and Renae
This week Ella and Renae chat about puberty and give some big picture insights into how to approach puberty with your autistic child. Ella talks about what's going on both physically and and neuronally for your child as they enter puberty and Renae uses her lived experience of raising teens to bring some awesome insights and practical tips.
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Autism 360
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