The new book you'll want to read with your daughter

Amy is thrilled to find a book that clearly explains puberty to girls with special needs

Credit: Woodbine House

Finally! An engaging book for OUR girls that explains puberty, periods and crushes. The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up :Choices and Changes in the Tween Years by Terri Couwenhoven is especially for girls with developmental disabilities, including autism. Like my book, More Than Mom (shameless plug), this paperback is published by Woodbine House, which focusses on special-needs topics.

For a test run, I sat down with my most critical book reviewer, Talia. To keep her focussed, we took turns reading aloud. To ensure Tal understood what she was reading, we stopped often and discussed the juicy bits. My daughter often smiled with embarrassment. Other times, she laughed out loud — like when the author suggested keeping pads in the car, just in case. 
Here’s Talia’s review: “I liked the book. I liked the part about periods the best. The part about flirting was confusing.”
While the book aims at girls ages eight to 14, it also appeals to teens and young adults. Like many individuals with autism, Talia likes to understand the “rules” for social situations. So she especially enjoyed chapters such as “Keeping Yourself Safe” which listed “Touching Rules for Your Own Body.”
If your daughter learns best by seeing photos, the “How Do You Use a Pad?” chapter is pure gold. The pad-changing process is broken into clear steps accompanied by photos. The author also includes a photo page where readers must point to the pad that should be changed. Yes!
This author truly “gets” our kids. Not surprising, since Couwenhoven is a certified sexuality educator specializing in teaching people with developmental disabilities. AND she’s the mom of two daughters; her oldest has Down syndrome.
How have you explained puberty, periods etc. to your daughter? Any favourite books or tips?

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