Puberty – Resources for parents of children with a developmental disability

Puberty can be tricky time for all children and their parents. The transition from child to young adult brings much change and a few challenges. Puberty with a disability can have extra challenges. We know from our experience, and research that parents of children with disabilities would like to be prepared for pubertal changes. Parents want to be able to access appropriate information to help their child understand these changes and to have support as their child approaches adolescence.




Is puberty different for children with disability?

Children with disability often experience delays in achieving milestones and this makes some people think that puberty may occur later or not at all for their child with a disability. However, for children with a disability puberty usually occurs at the same age and rate as typically developing children.

To access information about general pubertal changes, click here


If you are concerned about your child showing signs of puberty early or late please discuss this with your doctor.

To find out more information about early or late puberty click here


If your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, this video may be helpful.


Sexual behaviours

Parents of children with disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities, are often more worried about the behavioural changes which may occur during puberty than the physical changes. These fears are mostly about inappropriate sexual behaviour such as masturbation, touching genitals (private parts) or inappropriately touching others, and worries about sexual abuse.

Simple messages about private parts of the body, appropriate social interactions with others and how to say or indicate “no” to unwanted touch can be very powerful tools to teach your child. Your paediatrician, community team and school can help you to do this.

This information sheet on how to talk about private parts and personal boundaries may be helpful.



Related articles you may be interested in:

Periods – Menstruation resources for parents of girls with a developmental disability

Sexual Health – Resources for parents of young people with a developmental disability

Talking about puberty, periods and sexual health and getting the help you need



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