And I will give you some major topics to make sure to talk about with your children/students.
Why do I talk so much about the importance of sex education?
Because according to Human Rights Watch, when compared to [non-disabled] women, women with disabilities are three times as likely to be physically abused or assaulted. And according to the University of Michigan, it is estimated that as many as 40% of women with disabilities experience sexual assault or physical violence in their lifetimes and that more than 90% of ALL people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual assault. I am not telling you these statistics to scare you and put your child in a bubble. I am telling you this because it is important that YOU educate your child. Before we get to what I think you should focus on with your child, I want to remind you that
Last thing I will say before going over topics EVERY child should be educated on, you need to teach to the child. If your child uses a specific way to receive information, if they use tactile cues to learn, or if they need information simplified, then prepare this beforehand. If you have any questions, I am here to help. I am your ally and have taught sex education to students with varying disabilities and age ranges.
Top 5 sex education topics to teach NOW: I have a lot of great books that you can check out here in a previous blog post to help you with some of these topics.
Teaching consent and being consensual both need to happen here. You need to notice when the child doesn't like something or is saying no. I understand for people who have significant medical needs, they might be saying no to things that have to happen. I know this is not a great comparison, but I am going to explain this like when my 3 year old has to get a shot. We talk about it, we talk about why we get it, I bring her with me when I get shots, and she will still say no. We talk about being brave, taking a deep breath, and maybe even a treat afterwards to reward ourselves. Adults do have to make choices for our children to keep them safe. Talking to your child about that can help. If I held her down and said you have to do this, the shot would probably feel worse and the entire moment will be remembered as stressful and scary. Listen to your child. Follow their lead. Support them. If someone isn't respecting their boundaries, you have the right to step in.
It is also important to give your child a way to say no-AAC device, sign language, head movements, etc.
I took a different approach when explain who is a trusted adult to my students. Instead of telling them their parents or teachers or whoever are trusted adults, I explained what a trusted adult is like. I would say a trusted adult is someone who respects your boundaries. Will never make you feel uncomfortable. Trusted adults will never tell you a secret and will never tell you not to tell someone something. We talked about gut or tummy instincts. And again, give them language to use if they feel uncomfortable.
This topic depends on the person, the community, and the culture, but mentioning why we do what we do is important. Discussing etiquette in public restrooms or other shared places. Keeping a certain distance from strangers or when communicating with others depending how you communicate. Why we shower and wash our hands and stay clean. These are all topics that vary based off of your own society but sometimes need to be explained literally.
private and public places
This is a way I describe to my students where it is ok to masturbate. I know, you don't want to think of your own child's sexual needs, but think about it. People with disabilities, especially if there are a significant amount of needs, they are NEVER ALONE. If they have someone taking them to the restrooms, bathing them, putting them to sleep, they never get to explore their body. When children don't get that time, there is a chance they will find inappropriate times to touch themselves. Every year in the classroom, I have encountered this. It is a simple discussion of that is not something we do in a public place. If you need to touch yourself, you can go to the bathroom by yourself.
touching self and others
Lastly, touch. No one should be shamed for exploring or loving their body. That puts people down the road of not having enough body positivity and love for themselves. I am not sure if you remember puberty at all, but I am sure you found all those nerve endings at one point and couldn't stop yourself. But do we give each other handjobs on the playground? No. This is something that has to be taught for some people. I recently had a friend tell me that she has two high school students, with disabilities, trying to touch each other in class. They are looking for a modified sex education curriculum (looking for one if you have one!) because they are in a trusted relationship and they are at that age where people explore each other. How would you go about this?
What did you think of these topics? Are you going to take a different approach to sex education?
Inclusion Starts With You and I just want to help.
Inclusion Starts Now LLC