In a parent focus group* on the topic of sexuality and their children with ASD several interesting themes emerged: parents struggle with what healthy sexuality looks like in their child with ASD, they feel their child’s social impairments make many sexuality topics difficult to understand, they feel the community does not understand the sexuality needs of their child, and they feel unprepared to support their child with their sexuality need.
Does that sound like you?
These researchers made several suggestions for parents. Although they were focused on children with ASD, I think this would be applicable for almost all children. I think they are also good things for professionals to keep in mind too!
1) Lean about sexuality and ASD as well as sexual development in general.
2) Think about your hopes and fears for your child. Also think about your own experiences learning about sexuality.
3) Set goals for your child (and I would maybe modify, to the degree that they are able, with your child).
4) Think about the method to communicate these messages to your child.
5) Coordinate with schools, physicians, ect.
I have found a book that may be useful called “Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent’s Guide to the Cognitive, Social, Physical, and Transition Needs of Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorders “. You can get a pretty good preview on google books to make sure it is right for you. I like it because it talks about ASD in general and then weaves in topics related to puberty. It also thinks about changes from multiple domains. For example, one suggestion was realizing your teen might need more control and finding ways to incorporate that into his or her daily life.
This tip sheet from the Better Health Channel may also be helpful: Sex education for children with intellectual disabilities – tips for parents – Better Health Channel