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Planet Puberty!

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Planet Puberty!

This month we chat to Ee-Lin Chang, Senior Health Promotion Officer at Family Planning NSW. We chat about their recent launch of the new digital resource, Planet Puberty.

Congratulations on the launch of Planet Puberty, tell our readers what is Planet Puberty?

Planet Puberty is a brand new suite of resources to help the parents and carers of children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability navigate the changes to their child’s bodies, emotions and social interactions occurring during puberty.

The Planet Puberty project includes a website, webinar series and podcast. The website is your go-to place to find accessible lessons, factsheets, videos and useful books about all things puberty.

The webinar series, launching on May 19, gives parents and carers a chance to join the discussion and ask questions on a range of puberty topics. The webinars will feature expert advice from Family Planning NSW psychologist Zoe Semmler and Associate Medical Director Dr Clare Boerma.

We’re also excited to launch our podcast series on May 24, which will feature special guests including former Dolly Doctor Melissa Kang and sexologist and counsellor Jodi Rodgers from the hit Netflix show ‘Love on the Spectrum’, as well as the voices of people with autism and intellectual disability, and their parents and carers.

Why have you created Planet Puberty?

We know that parents of children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability are often unsure about when they should start teaching their child about puberty. Some parents might be concerned about jumping in too early or too late, while others may be concerned that puberty information is too complex for their child to understand.

For many parents, it’s not always easy to find the right information to meet their child’s complex needs. We created Planet Puberty with these concerns in mind, thanks to funding from the Department of Social Services. Planet Puberty has lots of information, worksheets, videos and strategies to help parents navigate their child’s puberty journey.

What topics does Planet Puberty cover?

On Planet Puberty, we think it’s important to take a holistic approach to puberty. We know that supporting a child through puberty isn’t just about supporting them to understand the physical changes that happen, but also the social and emotional changes as well.

That’s why on Planet Puberty we cover five key topic areas: The body, Relationships, Identity, Feeling good and Keeping safe. Each of these topics can be viewed in isolation, or you can have a look at our lesson plans for suggestions on the topics you might want to focus on.

At what age should parents start thinking about preparing their child for puberty?

It can be hard for parents to know when exactly they need to start talking about puberty, because it can start at different ages for different children. That’s why we suggest parents are proactive and start to talk about bodies and development as early as they can, using their child’s preferred communication style.

Children with autism spectrum disorder often need extra time to prepare for any big changes they experience, so the earlier and more often parents can talk about things like private parts, hygiene and body development, the easier changes will be to manage.

Planet Puberty offers information at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so you can find the level of information that is right for your family. If you haven’t started talking to your child about puberty yet, that’s OK – it’s never too late to start!

Does Planet Puberty feature any stories from autistic people about their experience of puberty?

Yes! To create Planet Puberty, we worked with a team of adults with autism and intellectual disabilities, and also a team of parents and carers from across Australia. You’ll find more information about some of these people on our ‘Stories’ page.

Here, adults with autism and intellectual disability talk about their experiences of puberty and their advice for parents today. We also have a video series where adults with autism help us to show parents how they can use some of the Planet Puberty resources to teach their children about key puberty topics.

Where can our readers find out more?

Head to our website: www.planetpuberty.org.au to access everything Planet Puberty has to offer!