Department of Education

Puberty explained

Puberty explained.

Puberty describes the time in your life when your body matures sexually. For girls this can happen from about the age of 12, and for boys a bit later from 13.

Physical changes

  • You will have a growth spurt
  • Hair under your armpits and around your private parts (external genetalia) will develop, as well as body odour.
  • Girls – your breasts will start to grow, your body might become more curvy, and your period will start.
  • Boys – your penis and testes will increase in size, and your voice will get deeper.

Emotional changes

  • Puberty can also affect you emotionally, and it can be a difficult time to deal with all of the changes that are taking place.
  • It is important that you have someone to talk to, maybe an older person who has already gone through puberty who can tell you about how they felt and dealt with it.

Discovering your body

  • Young people on the autism spectrum may find it difficult to understand when it’s OK to investigate their bodies.
  • Investigating your body should be done in private, behind closed doors.

Feeling attracted to someone

  • Feeling attracted to a boy or girl is very normal and if you want to approach them you should do it in a friendly way.
  • Sometimes your emotions may be overwhelming but you need to remember that some behaviour is not appropriate.
  • Touching is very personal and should only be done with someone’s permission.


You can find out more about puberty and watch a video on growing up and coping with changes in your body on the NHS website.

Girls can read more about puberty in Yoppie’s Guide to Menstrual Health


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