I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the joys of puberty are not limited to changes in physical appearance and the seemingly endless emotional rollercoaster. There is also the welcome addition of an increased sex drive and behaviors.
I am a firm believer that every person with a disability is an individual, so I’m going to address this issue globally. In all honesty, sex education isn’t about teaching the mechanics; it’s about keeping your child, adolescent or adult-child safe. Sexuality is intrinsic – it is a basic function of humanity. The desire to release sexual tension is neither diminished nor rendered extinct based on functioning and/or developmental levels. Denying access to the appropriate guidelines necessary to nurture your child’s sexuality, is denying that your child is a sexual being. It is, in fact, denying his/her humanity and rights to a respectful life.
If you’re still not motivated, consider the joys of dealing with these scenarios:
– Inappropriate touching
– Public Masturbation
– Engaging in sexual intercourse
– Viewing child pornography
– Becoming addicted to pornography
– Inappropriately touching a minor
– Being physically assaulted in a public restroom for looking at another man’s genitals
– Being a victim of sexual abuse
Our children are at high risk for all of these scenarios.
Now that I have your attention, what do we do?
After my own cringe moment, I thought to myself, my son is a person; he deserves to enjoy his sexuality just like everyone else. It is my responsibility to teach him the socially acceptable places for outlet and provide the guidelines.
First, if you have hang-ups about discussing sexual behaviors with school staff, therapist, siblings, family members, and anyone else involved in your child’s life – get over it! If you have a difficult time getting over it, you are placing your child at risk. Learning how and where will keep your child out of jail and will protect them from becoming victims themselves.
GENERAL SEX EDUCATION PARENTING TIPS:
– Respect that your child is an independent person, who deserves a respectful life, inclusive of a safe, healthy sex-life.
– Teach your child to take care of bathing, hygiene, and dressing independently.
– Start Young: behaviors that are cute at 4 can be criminal at 14.
– Distinguish private space from public space.
– Allow your child to lock their door and establish a ‘Knock Before Entering the Room’ policy.
– Teach your child how to use a public restroom.
– Monitor Computer Access: This includes blocking access to dangerous adult material and in some cases, allowing access to limited safe materials, within the perimeters of your family values and what is developmentally acceptable for your adult-child.
What and how you decide to teach will vary depending on your child’s ability to understand. Utilize social stories to establish firm rules. Continue to review and monitor your child’s understanding of the rules. And above all, don’t freak out – it’s only SEX!