Taking Care of Your Body: Answers for Girls With Autism
Why Do I Need to Take Care of My Body?
Learning how to take care of your body is part of growing up. As you get older, your body will change as you go from being a girl to a woman. This is called puberty. During puberty, you will get:
- oily skin and hair
- hair that grows under your arms, on your legs, and in your private area (the part of your body that is covered by underwear)
- sweat that smells stinky, especially under your arms
- your period, also called menstruation. This is when blood comes out of your vagina, but you are not sick or hurt.
These changes will happen slowly. You will have to learn new routines to keep yourself clean and healthy.
What Should I Do Every Day?
To stay smelling fresh and clean, you should:
- Put on clean underwear and clothes every day.
- Wash your hands and face every day with soap and water. Use a towel to dry off.
- Take a shower or bath by yourself. When you take a shower or bath, you can wash all your body parts and your hair.
- Use deodorant every day. This will make your underarms less sweaty and stinky.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss every day. This will help prevent bad breath and cavities.
What About Shaving?
Some girls shave the hair that grows under their arms and on their legs. If you want to shave, ask a parent or other trusted adult how to use a razor. If you don’t want to shave, that’s OK too.
It may take time to get used to how it feels to shave. Electric razors are noisy and might tickle a little. Other razors are sharp and can cut you if you are not careful. Be careful when using a razor.
What About Wearing a Bra?
Once you have breasts, a bra is a good idea. Bras support the breasts. Some girls feel more comfortable wearing a bra, especially when running or jumping around. If you've never worn a bra before it might feel uncomfortable at first. With a little time, you should get used to it.
Ask your mom or another trusted adult to help you shop for a bra. There are lots of different kinds of bras. Look for a soft bra without seams, tags, or itchy lace. Try different ones until you find a bra that's right for you.
What Happens When My Period Comes?
When you get your period, you will see blood on your underwear, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl. Your period will come about once a month. It usually lasts about 3 to 7 days. Mark your calendar each month when you get your period. This way, you'll know when to expect it the next month.
When you have your period, you need to wear a special pad in your underwear to catch the blood. Your mother or other trusted adult will teach you how to use one.
There are many different kinds of pads. You will be able to choose the ones that are most comfortable for you to wear.
How Do I Wear Pads?
To put on a new pad, peel the paper off the back of the new pad. Place the sticky side of the pad in your underwear. Make sure it stays in place.
Change your pad about every 4 hours, when it smells, or when it is full of blood.
To change your pad, pull off the old one. Roll it up in toilet paper and throw it away in the bathroom trash can. Change your underwear if it is dirty. Then, put a new pad in your underwear.
This Feels Like a Lot to Learn! How Can I Remember?
Having a new daily routine may take some getting used to. Here are some fun ways to remember what to do:
- Make a schedule so you know when to wash your face, brush your teeth, or take a shower.
- Use a picture chart or list that tells the steps for putting on and taking off pads.
- Number supplies you use — like soap, shampoo, and deodorant — so you know what to use first and what comes next.
Make it Fun!
Be prepared each day by making special kits with all the supplies you need for taking care of yourself. Ask your mom or dad to help you put your kits together.
You might make one kit for your morning routine that has soap, moisturizer, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, and a brush and other items for your hair. You can make another kit for when you have your period that has pads, wipes, and clean underwear.
If you don't like the smell or the feel of some of the supplies, you can always go back to the store to buy something different. You have many choices. Choose whatever is best for you.