Although the disorder is rarely diagnosed in young girls, autism spectrum disorder can be especially difficult and complicated for young women, particularly because much of the research on the subject focuses on boys. If you have a daughter with autism who suffers from frequent urinary tract infections, for example, you may find yourself without many resources to turn to. But besides understanding a possible biological explanation for excessive UTIs, there are steps you can take to control other factors that may contribute to the problem.
Examining the Link Between Infection and Autism
Your daughter's tendency for UTIs may not be her fault. Autism has been shown to affect the immune system, increasing inflammation and causing the immune response to run at constantly escalated levels. In fact, mothers who experience a significant infection during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to autistic children, and UTIs in the mother can raise her child's risk of autism by 40 percent. More research is needed to establish this link further, but it does suggest that your daughter's frequent UTIs may be tied to her autism.
Encouraging Better Hygiene Habits
Still, in the meantime, this connection is not particularly helpful for a mother struggling to help her daughter. But by accepting this predisposition, you can focus on preventative steps to minimize infection and keep your daughter comfortable. The most important of these is proper hygiene, an area that many autistic women already struggle with. Make sure that your daughter knows how to wipe properly after using the restroom, and teach her to wash thoroughly in the bath. Sometimes, simply spelling out the little things many women take for granted is all an autistic girl needs to catch up.
Emphasizing Using the Restroom When Needed
Another common issue among autistic individuals is difficulty with executive functioning, or prioritizing what needs to happen when. Many children with this disorder feel the urge to urinate but are unwilling to change what they are doing or get distracted, leading to a buildup of urine and the harmful bacteria that cause infection. Throughout the day, gently remind your daughter to visit the restroom to encourage her to regularly empty her bladder.
Checking in With Your Child
From an autistic perspective, a routine medical exam can be an invasive and frightening event. The unpleasantness of visiting your local gynecologist or urologist every time an infection develops may cause your child to keep new infections a secret, allowing them to grow and spread. This makes communicating with your daughter about the state of her body especially important, and it can also teach her how to share information about herself without feeling uncomfortable. If these steps fail to deliver results, it may be helpful to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to develop a customized plan and double check that nothing else is causing the trouble. With patience and diligence, you should be able to help your daughter learn to manage her UTIs and avoid the risk of more serious infections down the road.
Do you know when your daughter needs to be introduced to the OBGYN? Discussions such as this can be difficult for both parent and daughter, but it can be ever so more difficult for the single father. A single father raising a teenage daughter comes with many complications. Teenage girls can be a little less likely to discuss woman problems with their father, so they need to have someone that they can talk freely with. My website is full if advice to help single fathers get through these difficult discussions with their teenage daughters and find an OBGYN that their daughters are comfortable with.