When I first saw this book was being published I was really intrigued to see what the book said and how it communicated to young girls about periods. I had in fact only been wondering a couple of weeks before I came across this book how parents dealt with this issue. So, as a neurotypical parent, here is my review of The Autism Friendly Guide to Periods by Robyn Steward.
The book opens with a blank grid of six detachable flaps which the reader can use to minimise the amount of information they are taking in. There is even a practice page before the book begins, so the reader really can take in all the facts at their own pace.
Part 1: The Basics
The book starts by likening periods to any other bodily function, immediately putting the reader at ease that there is nothing to worry about. There are examples of people who have periods, and those who don’t. It explains that not everyone has periods, and that’s ok. There are diagrams which are very easy to read, and it also touches on why it’s important that people who don’t have periods need to know about them.
A particular favourite of mine here was the diagram of the female reproductive system which used objectives of a similar size to show how big the system is. For example, the womb was represented by a lemon and the vagina by a small tube of toothpaste. This really helps the reader grasp the concept of size well and I felt the diagram hugely reduced anxiety as you were simply looking at everyday items.
The book continues to talk about emotions and physical symptoms throughout the whole cycle. The author has split the cycle into weeks that can be covered by the blank flaps provided at the beginning so the reader only has to concentrate on one week at a time.
One of my favourite things about this book is that it talks about reusable menstrual care, hooray! It concentrates on each different type of product in detail (again, with the option to cover up sections) including culture, dangers, how to use and where to get them. There are also photos of where to keep supplies when in school which I can imagine is comforting. It also talks about how to dispose of them too.
The best thing about this part is how it covers worries that most girls have. It covers period pain and how to help with it. It also lists moods you may experience AND what those moods might mean. There is a blank emotions diary for filling in as well.
This part also gives examples of phrases to use if the reader feels uncomfortable telling someone that they’ve started their period and need help. This part is genius and I can only imagine the relief this would bring to someone who simply didn’t know what to say.
There’s a section on what is usual and what is unusual so the reader is aware of when to seek help.
Part one ends with a blank period plan for the reader to fill in.
Part two is a step by step guide on how to use the products and has photos for each stage. This is so helpful and will prevent any shock or worry when the reader starts to use the products themselves. It gives a clear visual routine on how to use them so that you’re not just relying on words alone.
Part 3 and 4
Part three looks at the emotional cycle whilst part four concentrates on the hormones and more biological side of periods.
The book comes to a close in part five by looking at autism specific issues. This includes sensory issues including different fabrics, materials and how to know if you’re unable to detect any smells etc.
This book is all round amazing. It uses simple plain language, the reader can go at their own pace and the visuals are perfect. This book is also ideal for girls who experience anxiety or want to learn everything without the need for a conversation. I would also recommend this for boys as it really does offer something for everyone. It’s genius. Massive thumbs up from me!!
You can find out more by visiting https://autismfriendlyperiods.com/
A big thank you to Robyn for letting me review this book before it goes on sale.
Thanks for reading,