Developmental disability and sexuality
August 15, 2007 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Parents of children or young adults with developmental disabilities: how have you dealt with sexuality issues?

Specifically, this is a 21 year old male with autism-spectrum disorder. How did you assess when the right time was to address this? What resources did you call upon for help? How did things go and what would you do differently?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There are many books and web pages on this subject. Just search for [autism sexuality].
posted by grouse at 2:04 PM on August 15, 2007

I would try local resources first, including support groups for parents, along with the many autism "societies" to be found online. I'm sure the best method for this person would depend upon how verbal he is and how aware he is of his own body and others' bodies. If he still sees therapists of any kind, a psychiatrist/psychologist or maybe just an MD, call and ask for advice. If he's not seeing his pediatrician any longer (which seems likely), it might be a good idea to contact them for ideas. I would try a children's hospital, as well as a neurologist. Autism is featured in a lot neuro magazines and I'm sure that they could point you in the right direction.

If you find something that works for him, please send it my way, if you're ok with that. My son is five and has been diagnosed with mild to high functioning autism, and he is very friendly with his equipment, along with other family members' equipment (through clothing, even). We're obviously not at the right age yet, but just the idea of it is a little intimidating. My email's in my profile. Good luck.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2007

Sex-education instruction may be available from state social services. I know this is definitely true in California. I was an instructor for two years. I taught my students sex-related biology and I taught boundaries. I focused on the parts of others one may and may not touch (e.g., putting your hand on your friend's shoulder is okay; putting your hand on their behind is not okay), and what parts of oneself others may not touch. I think that may be your most immediate concern.

Picture books are excellent for this. The more simple, concrete, and clear-cut, the better. Have conversations and do activities. Be patient and non-judgmental and know that instruction will be ongoing for a while. This could be months, a year, or more. Afterwards, review.

I was so proud the day one of my students surprised her mother by describing ovulation after seeing a tampon commercial.

One book I used was It's Perfectly Normal.

As with anyone, the time is always right to address this.
posted by halonine at 6:56 PM on August 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

The ABC's of Sex Education for Trainables might be of some help.
posted by item at 9:26 PM on August 15, 2007

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