Sexuality, for the neurotypical individual, is often a topic learned through informal channels. For those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), they have a harder time to learn about it through the same channels as the neurotypical individual. This situation poses a challenge, especially for their parents, since misinformation and misunderstandings may arise and may be learned by their special child.
It is of utmost importance to educate your child about sexuality for him/her to understand the changes associated with his/her growth, to reduce the inappropriate sexual behavior, and to reduce the risk of being physically abused.
Potential Topics To Tackle With Your Child
- Body Parts
Teaching about the human body to your child is essential. The child needs to understand that there are certain body parts only found in males, and not in females, including its role and the changes that will take place as they hit puberty. It is equally important to emphasize learning about private body parts, what touch is okay and not okay, and how and where to report sexual abuse.
As parents, you should acknowledge that having sexual urges is considered normal, and maybe relieved at instances, through masturbation. Instead of discouraging your child from doing this, it is more important to tell your child that there are times he/she will feel like doing so and teach him/her the appropriate place to masturbate.
There are also cases of public disrobing, inappropriate touching of the opposite sex, and using unusual objects for masturbation. It is important to orient your child about the standard and accepted norms on this topic.
- Reproduction And Birth Control
Having a baby as a consequence of two people who had unprotected sexual intercourse should be discussed. Individuals with ASD also have to know about the available types of contraception available to prevent an undesired pregnancy.
- Sexual Health
Regular checkups and examinations by themselves and doctors should also be discussed with your special child. There are some instances that surgery on your reproductive organs should be done to preserve health. An example is an ovarian hysterectomy for women and testicular cancer for men.
Starting To Teach Your Child
More likely than not, general sex education is being offered at your child’s school. Coordinate with your child’s teacher to let him/her know your concerns when they start teaching about it at school. Whether or not you object to your child having this discussion with his/her teacher, verbalize it.
Online resources are also available if ever you decide to be the first source of information about your child. Some even provide the flow of topics and fun activities for your child which will aid you in teaching. You can use live props in order to show him/her the proper use of things related to his/her sexual health (ex. Use of sanitary napkin, condom, etc.).
In Illinois, they offer a face-to-face program to spread awareness on sexuality education to its community members. The Birds and the Bees is a one-day workshop that offers to teach comprehensive quality sexuality education to community members interested in teaching sexuality education to persons with developmental and mental disabilities. In turn, parents who have attended this workshop may extend and apply their knowledge to their children with special needs.