High School Human Sexuality 101 Week 2- Anatomy

FemaleReproductiveSystem_Lateral_250w

Anatomy and Reproduction were the topics for week 2. We started off the session with a game called “Parts and Post-it Notes” to talk about body parts with the participants. To play this game we had a giant piece of paper with the outline of a body on it. We gave the participants post-it notes to write down the body parts that they knew and asked them to place them on the outline of the body.

After this activity, the participants were told that for the rest of the class they would be focusing on body parts related to reproduction (another way to refer to sex organs or private parts). The participants were then directed to the next activity where they practiced saying terminology related to reproduction out loud and recording their responses to how saying the words made them feel.

When the participants finished the terminology activity, we spit them into two groups to start the fruit anatomical model of reproductive organs using fruit. The participants were shown a picture of the parts of the body and were giving tooth picks and flash cards to label the fruit parts and their functions. This activity was great for the participants to learn the vocabulary in a little abstract and safe way! For a more concrete example of reproduction, we used the “Miracle of Life” video to explain the process.

We ended this session by having the participants briefly summarize that they learned during the session.

For more information on anatomy view our Human Sexuality 101 Week 2- AnatomyEXPLAINING ANATOMYYOUTUBE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES: HEALTHCHANNEL, SEXPLANATIONS, AND CSPHADULT HUMAN SEXUALITY WEEK 2- ANTATOMY & REPRODUCTION posts

This Week’s Materials

Week 2 Lesson Plan

Week 2 Slides

Parent Letter

Worksheets

Anatomy labels

High School Human Sexuality 101 Week 3: Body Image Lesson Plan

IMG_20120718_152104This lesson plan revolved around teaching what body image means, understanding that people feel differently about their bodies, and that people change how they feel about their bodies over time.  After doing several knowledge based activities, we moved to exploring how the students felt about their own bodies.

There was one theme that was really relevant for the student we were working with.  She was really interested in her perception of self and others perception of her.   In her self-portrait, she focused on the things that make her her; most of these were things you couldn’t see.

We also read body stories.  Each had a picture of a body.  Just seeing the images was really moving.  We were planning mostly for girls, but I included a story that might be more appropriate for a male audience.  The young woman chose to read the story about the women who was the most traditionally beautiful (not really a big surprise).  This was a story about a woman with chronic illness.  Serendipitously, the body story resonated concepts that this student was working through.

Materials

Lesson Plan

Slides

Parent Letter

Body Stories (all female) from This is Who I Am by Rosanne Olson (her website is http://bodyimagebook.com)

Body Story (male)

Dove Clip

Sexual Violence: How to Protect and Prevent

Here are some resources about sexual violence, including crisis hotline information:

Sexual Violence and Disabilities Resources:

Sexual Abuse of Children with Autism: Factors that Increase Risk and Interfere with Recognition of Abuse: A free-to-access report on sexual abuse and children with ASD.

People with Intellectual Disabilities and Sexual Violence: A brief report on signs of sexual violence involving people with intellectual disability.

Guardianship, Sexual Assault, and Rape Kit Rights: A previous post of ours which highlights policy changes involving issues with guardians, sexual assault, and the right to release a rape kit.

Promoting Justice: An Essential Resource Guide for Responding to Abuse Against Children with Disabilities: This guide discusses abuse and neglect toward children with many types of disabilities, including neurodevelopmental, physical, sensory, brain injury, and mental health disabilities.

General Sexual Violence Resources:

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: General resource about rape, abuse, and incest. There’s a lot of information, but not all of it is specific to people with intellectual disability.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Parenting resources on sexual abuse in English and Spanish.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: A great resource on domestic violence and abuse issues, along with contact information for hotlines and other related services.

You Are in Charge of Your Body: A video series aimed at young children to identify and understand sexual abuse and how to communicate these incidents to adults. It also teaches children to take charge of their bodies.

Sexual violence comes in many forms and it can be difficult to distinguish them. Here’s a basic guide on how to classify types of sexual violence.

Sexual Harassment: Giving someone unwanted sexual attention. This can include touching someone’s body without their explicit permission, asking for sexual acts, and catcalling, which is an unwelcome, sexually charged comment.

Rape: Forced vaginal, anal, or oral sexual intercourse. Rape lacks clear consent. Rape can occur by strangers or people you know, even a partner. Sometimes, power is used to coerce a person into sexual intercourse. In these case, usually a person declines sexual advances and is then guilted into intercourse.

Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is a minor or not at the age of consent (which varies by state and country). Get more information on statutory rape and the age of consent here.

Incest: Sexual acts between people who are related. This can be siblings, parent-child, uncles/aunts and nephews/nieces.

Domestic Violence: Violence between two people in an intimate partnership. This includes threats and acts of violence (i.e. battery).

Stalking: When a person repeatedly follows, watches, or harasses someone for a long period of time. This can include excessive phone calls (i.e. five phone calls in one hours) and giving gifts.

So, how can we prevent sexual violence and protect ourselves and others against it?

Understanding sexual violence: By understanding the types of sexual violence, it can be easier to identify and understand how it can affect yourself and others.

Speak out if something doesn’t feel right: If you are feeling that you have been part of a sexual act that did not make you feel good or that you did not want to do, telling someone you trust or contacting a sexual assault survivor’s line can help clarify the situation.

Teach consent as a mandatory step in all sexual situations: Consent is a fancy way of saying “yes, I would like this to happen.” By giving consent, you are allowing another person to touch your body. You can tell them what you are and are not comfortable with (i.e. “I do not want to do vaginal sex, only oral”). Understanding that consent can change at anytime during the interaction is also important and can be overlooked. It’s okay to say “stop, I don’t want to have sex anymore.”

Here’s a quick video about consent, including examples of what consent looks like.

Intimacy Activity

This activity can be used to teach about different intimate activities, either alone or with a partner. All of the actions come in a word list form and in a visual form. The activity includes a continuum worksheet in which  activities can be classified as “less intimate” and “more intimate”.

One way to use this activity is to teach what sex is.  We often assume that people understand what sex is, but people have difficulty with understanding sex even when it is explained.  First list the acts of intimacy in a continuum and then discuss “where sex starts” or “which activities are sex and which ones are not.  This is more difficult than it seems.  For example, it is not uncommon for students to start with thinking that “kissing above the waist over the clothes” is sex. When we teach this activity, we encourage students to express their own understanding of what is more or less intimate but because the concept of a spectrum is difficult, we guide them at the anchors of what is the most inmate and least intimate.  By seeing sex in the context of different sexual activities it helps fill in some of the gaps.

Instead of a continuum you could use categories- the categories we use help reinforce the idea of a continuum as well.  There is also a list of different levels of intimacy that can be used to classify these activities. Using the activity in this way is consistent with the concept of postponement- postponing intercourse until a relationship is more serious of formalized.

Sometimes when people see all the different acts of intimacy  they are surprised but it is important to be inclusive of all different forms of sexual expression.  We also don’t use all the different acts with every group, but we’ve given you a pretty comprehensive list that you can tailor to meet your student or child’s needs.

Download the intimacy activity intimacy activity pictures or with just words.

Levels of Intimacy

Levels of Intimacy

YouTube Educational Resources: Healthchannel, Sexplanations, and CSPH

YouTube has a lost of great sexuality education resources but it can be hard to find among all of the “not safe for work” content.  Here’s a few channels and videos that might be useful.  One of the most difficult tasks sex educators report is explaining intimate acts.  This can be uncomfortable and difficult so I’ve tried to focus on these difficult to teach topics.  The videos may not be the best fit for the person/people you’re working with, but they can give you an idea where to start.  The channels also have great resources for expanding your own education on sexuality topics.


 

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH) has a lot of great videos.  Is one of my favorite cites.  In addition to having direct information they also have videos for parents (“Use Your Words” videos).

Healthchannel is a YouTube channel with short videos on a variety of health care issues including sexual health resources including a few I’ve listed below.  The videos aren’t prefect.  They don’t feature animations with people with disabilities and focus on heterosexual couples, but they give very precise, clear information.

Sexplanations is another YouTube channel.  They have mini episodes on human sexuality topics from shared sexual behavior to STDs to anatomy.  Again the videos aren’t perfect.  They move a little too quickly than I would like, but I’ve selected a few I think could be helpful.  They could also be good to expand your own understanding of various topics.

 

Affirming Sexual Expression- Accessible Sex Toys

I’m just going to be honest. I think sex shops can be a little creepy.  It really pushes my comfort zone to support someone purchasing sex toys not because I’m uncomfortable with the individual I’m working with’s sexual expression- I’m uncomfortable the sexual of expression of general patrons of the store.  Usually the line between sexual exploitation and sexual affirmation is a nice, clear, thick, black line. But in a sex store it’s gets blurrier and it can be difficult to navigate.  It pushes me to think about my own biases, but at the same time I don’t think all sex shops affirm sexuality equally.

comeasyouare2That’s part of the reason I was so glad to stumble upon “Come As You Are”.  The other reason is because they actually know things about serving people with disabilities.  “Come As You Are” is a sex shop located in Canada (great for Torantoins, but less than great for Illinoisians).  They have a wonderful website, are knowledgeable about people with all different abilities, and are responsive to questions.  If you know of place that is safe and accessible or at least responsive to the needs of individuals with disabilities, please share.

The store was featured in this video which I found to be very enlightening in regards to things to consider when supporting someone with purchasing a sex toy.  For one, I wasn’t really aware of some of the options out there.   The video also goes into several was to match ability needs with sex toy functioning.  I will warn you that streaming quality is not that great, but the content is excellent.


Another thing to think about is the use of wedges and ramps for sexual exploration and sexual expression.  The Liberator is probably the most popular line of sexual furniture.  They look just like the wedges used in the exercise room of our day program (except the ads all have beautiful scantily clad women on them).  Using tools for sexual positioning may be the only way some individuals can participate in intercourse or other sexual activities.  The how to use videos on their website are more erotic than instructional.  There are videos online geared toward instruction.  They are explicit, but the participants are fully clothed throughout.  Click here for the male positioning and here for female positioning.

Communicating About Sexuality Adaptively

f1mj421_02_1

It can be a little overwhelming to start thinking about communicating pictorially about human sexuality topics, but there are some supports available.

Many of you already use Board Maker (computer software that helps make visual supports and PECS).  They have a “Communicating About Sexuality” add on that is very useful and only costs $15.00 (but you have to already have Board Maker).

If you would like some guidelines on how to approach augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in regards to sexuality Speak Up has resources that you may find useful.  Speak Up is a group dedicated to preventing sexual abuse/victimization among people who use alternative communication.  They have guidelines, suggestions for communication displays, and information about building sexual vocabulary.  This group surveyed individuals who use AAC and found that ACC users say they need:

  • People who recognize that they are sexual
  • Information about sexuality
  • Vocabulary to communicate about sexuality
  • People to communicate with about sexuality
  • Accessible resources and services

Sounds pretty darn reasonable to me.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability

the guideThis book by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette is eye opening.  It’s written by people with disabilities for people with disabilities and focuses on the joys of sexual intimacy.  As a typically developing person, it challenged a lot of my assumptions about sex and made me think about new things.  Chapters include: Myths About Disability and Sex; Desire and Self-Esteem; Sexual Anatomy and Sexual Response; Communication; Sex with Ourselves; Sex with Others; Oral Sex, Penetration and Positioning; Sex Toys, Books, and Videos; Yoga and Tantric Sex; S/M; Sexual Health; Sexual Violence and Sexuality; Resources; and Glossary of Gender and Sex Terms.   I want to share two passages with you.

Sex and Spontaneity

“We’re taught that sex is suppose to be spontaneous, something that just comes naturally (like ‘true love’).  This belief is damaging to everyone, but is a real problem for people living with disabilities, because any amount of planning makes sex not spontaneous.  Believing in this myth pretty much ensures a lously sex life.
While sex has many meanings, at its heart sex is a process of communication.  Whether we are flirting from across a crowded room, giving someone head for the first time, or making love while listening to a piece of music that totally turns us on, being sexual is being in contact with ourselves and our surroundings.  The idea that this process can happen without thinking, talking, or planning is ridiculous.
Maybe we are willing to buy into the myth of sexual spontaneity because talking about our desires is difficult.  It’s risky, and makes us feel exposed and vulnerable, and often vulnerability is equated with weakness.”

This made me think a lot about the way I teach reproduction and sexual intimacy.  I tend to focus a lot sexual behavior, but not as much on the planning and communication that comprises that behavior.  Also, I do a lot of role playing, planning out what you’re going to say in advance, and scripting.  I’ve never really done that around negotiating intimacy.

Privacy

“If we were taught anything about sex at all when we were younger, many of us learned that sex was something private, inappropriate to talk about or do in front of others.  Privacy becomes a requirement for sexuality.
From someone living in an institution, or using attendant services, or needing the assistance of someone else to facilitate communication, privacy is a completely different reality.  The definition of privacy changes when you have no lock on your door, or when you request private time at a specific hours knowing that it will probably be written down in a log-book.  This myth is one of those ‘no-win situations,’ because we’re told that real sex is a private matter and, guess what, you can’t have that kind of privacy.”

This passage really challenged me to think about how I teach privacy and how I teach about relationship types.  I think sometimes I might ignore that what a lot of people think of as privacy and the individual I am working with reality of privacy are two disparate things.

I do wish this book focused a little more on people with intellectual disability and was written at lower reading level.  I do think people with ID/DD could read it with support, especially sections.  Much of the book is testimonies by people with disabilities and I think these passages could be great teaching tools.  There are also suggested exercises- one of the exercises was about looking at your body.  I teach antimony all the time, but I don’t think I’ve ever said, “when you’re at home, alone in your bedroom, look at and feel your body and check out the parts we’ve been talking about, you can even use a mirror.”

Facilitated Sex

What is facilitated sex?  This brief video explains what facilitated sexual activity is and some of the considerations.

Dr. Mitchel Tepper is an expert in the area of sexual health, disabilities, and medical conditions with a specific focus on physical disabilities.  His website can connect you with a lot of great information (I especially like his blog).

Some things to keep in mind about facilitated sex…

  • Facilitated sex is a continuum.  Dr. Sarah Earle suggests it might include providing sex education, fostering an environment that allows intimacy, the procurement of sexual goods,  and arranging for paid-for sexual services.
  • Many individuals with disabilities would be unable to participate in many parts of sexual expression without some level of facilitation.
  • It’s not that abuse and victimization aren’t concerns- they are!  It is also important to consider how to support individuals with exploring sexual pleasure and sexual facilitation is part of that picture.

Sexual Health- Pelvic Exams

Many women with development disabilities are under anesthesia during pelvic exams or don’t get them at all (or as recommended).  However, educating about pelvic exams may be an important part of teaching sexual health.  I’ve included the link to a video that may help.

This is a brief video that goes through the basic procedure of a woman having a pelvic exam.  This could also be a good video for teaching about female anatomy.  It has a lot of technical terminology but it also moves nice and slow.

Human Sexuality Week 6- Body Image

This week, we focused on body image.  This was probably the most difficult concept for students to grasp so far.  In other weeks we’ve focused more on content but this week was more about self expression and they could connect the expression components, however, they really struggled with what exactly body image is and their own self awareness.  For some of the students thinking about body image melted into feelings of self worth.  The strategy we introduced, positive self talk, was also difficult for them to understand.

Activities this week…

What is Body Image? We’re used a pretty simple definition of body image: how you think and feel about your body and appearance.  This definition highlights the cognitive and affective components of body image.

How I Feel About My Body  For this activity we asked students to write down how they feel about their body.  We then collected all the responses, redistributed them, and read them out loud.  This activity allowed students to express their feelings about body image.  It also exposed them to the thoughts and feelings of others.  For the most part students in our group expressed feeling good about their bodies.

Positive Self-Talk  We introduced positive self-talk as a strategy for managing negative ideations about body image.  Each member of the group practiced positive self-talk by using affirmation statements in the mirror.  This was very difficult for some students, even with the scripts.  This may be because they didn’t understand the “why” behind the activity.  This activity exposed them to a strategy for promoting a healthy body image and gave students an opportunity to practice that strategy.

Role Play  Because we know that often, negative thoughts and feelings about body image occur while we are with groups of people, we role played using positive self-talk when in a group.  This was essentially an extension of the previous activity but we made the task slightly more difficult.

Self-Portraits  Body image is one of those topics that is not just about learning facts but mostly about self-awareness and self-expression.  In addition to teaching some concrete strategies for promoting positive body image, we also wanted to provide opportunities to explore thoughts and feelings about appearance.  The self-portraits were another strategy for helping students explore their thoughts and feelings about body image.  For the most part, the kids were really excited about this activity.  We promoted trying to reflect a positive self image, but this didn’t come naturally to all the students.  We also wanted to make sure we respected the right for students to express their genuine emotions.   

Just a note on classroom management.  Distractions were down with the implementation of our simple rights and responsibilities, more firm “nos” and the stop sign.  We did have one student who had a hard time because they had to wait until next week to take the pictures home so the paint could dry.  This is something to anticipate for the future.

Materials for this week…

Human Sexuality Week 7- Hygiene

Hygiene is not on the SEICUS guidelines for what to teach in a human sexuality class, but we find that it can be a hard topic for students.  It also is strongly connected to puberty because it is during puberty that hygiene needs change at the same time young people have more autonomy and responsibility for their hygiene.  We tackled hygiene with a series of activities we called hygiene Olympics.  In small groups, students moved throughout the stations to practice and contemplate hygiene tasks.

  • Hand washing: Students rubbed glitter mixed with lotion on their hands and then had to wash their hands until the glitter came off.  This will helped students to recognize that hand washing is more than just rinsing hands lightly with water.
  • Body washing: We will had life-size body outlines, loofas, and paint.  Students used the paint like it was soap.  This helped students recognize the importance of washing their entire body.
  • Laundry: Students saw a pile of laundry.  They then sorted the clean from the dirty clothing (the dirty clothing are just tee shirts that have been dampened and wrinkled).  The helped students identify clean clothing.
  • Shaving: Students used an orange to practice shaving with a razor and shaving cream.  The teacher in the group explained that boys often shave their face and that girls often shave their legs and underarms. Students had an opportunity to practice shaving. 
  • Deodorant testing: We had several deodorants with the brands blocked out.  Students smelled and voted on their favorite scent.  At this station, teachers  pointed out the importance of wearing deodorant each day and reapplying after activities that cause sweat.  This station emphasized the importance of deodorant use. 
  • My Hygiene Routine: Students saw pictures of different hygiene tasks.  They also had a worksheet that said “My Hygiene Routine.” Students chose what order they would prefer to complete the hygiene tasks.  This activity provided students with control and choice while also committing them to completing the necessary tasks.

Materials for this week

Menstruation Plan

In preparing for the puberty section of Human Sexuality 101 I was looking at research on methods for teaching young girls with ASD about menstruation and came across an article using Social Stories (only a preview of the article is available for free).

In short, here’s the Four P Plan for Period Support

1.  Prepare a period kit

2.  Preinstruct (perhaps using social stories)

3.  Practice

4.  Plan for pain relief

Klett & Turan used a combination of three Social Stories adapted from Mary Warbol’s “Taking Care of Myself: A Hygiene, Puberty, and Personal Curriculum for Young People with Autism” (this book is not just for girls).  They implemented the social stories before menarche (first period) and then planed to revisit them after menses began. These stories focused on growing upwhat a period is, and how to take care of a period (I would reprint them but you have to be careful about Social Stories and their copy rights). They also used simulations with the girls using red syrup so they could practice changing a “used” menstrual pad.  They reviewed the social stories over several days and completed simulations over several days.  They also used different types of menstrual pads in case the girls did not always have access to the same type.  They also asked the children questions about menstruation to check for comprehension (such as “What is the blood from your vagina called?” and “Do you need to wear a pad when you don’t have your period?”).  This method proved effective in these case studies and the parents who implemented the plans where happy with it.

ImageI have a good friend who made a menstrual kit for his daughter to start keeping in her book bag around age 11.  In a zip lock bag he placed a change of underwear, menstrual pads, Tylenol, a change of shorts, and bathroom wipes. That way, if her first period was at school, she had everything she needed and wouldn’t need to ask for support unless she wanted to. I personally think this is a wonderful idea and wish my mom had thought of it when I was middle school!  This idea has caught on because you can buy premade kits. Also, they make underwear that help keep menstrual pads in place.

I have heard that some families also preemptively use pain relief to support with discomfort and PMS.  Not all girls associate the physical discomfort with their period or are able to communicate “I feel bloated” or “I have cramps.” Although these are phrases that you can teach and prompt, some families just start using an over the counter painkiller two or three days before they anticipate the start of the period.  This isn’t foolproof because, especially when girls first start getting their period, they may have irregular cycles.

Hierarchy: Masturbation Training by Lisa Mitchell

Below is a “Hierarchy: Masturbation Training” by Lisa Mitchell, LCSW-R at Penn State.  Her plan for what she calls, “private touching”, was specifically developed for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, but I think it is a good general framework.  The hierarchy goes from lowest level of support to highest level of support.  Across the board, masturbation is a topic people want more information about.  I think this is a nice way to think about what kind of education or training is available as well as what you might want to try before moving on to something more intensive.  I have also included a link to her entire powerpoint.  She covers other topics/tips you may find interesting (relationship checklist, key concepts for topic areas, teaching techniques, problem behaviors).

  1. When appropriate, work with families and/or residence to establish a visual “private time schedule.”
  2. When appropriate, supply individual with lubricant, explaining that it is for use during “private time.”
  3. Meet with individual. Present illustrations of same sex persons masturbating, in conjunction with verbal explanation regarding technique.
  4. Meet with individual. Use illustrations and anatomical model in conjunction with verbal explanation of technique.
  5. Meet with individual. Use anatomically correct dolls to demonstrate appropriate masturbatory technique, in conjunction with verbal explanation.
  6. When appropriate, supply masturbatory aids such as body pillows, magazines, collages of stimulating pictures, vibrating pillows, masturbation sleeves, masturbation pumps, or vibrators. Explain safe usage of such aids.
  7. Meet with individual. Arrange for multiple viewings (when necessary) of instructional masturbation movies “Handmade Love” for males, or “Fingertips” for females. Viewings should occur in the individual’s bedroom or the private location where masturbation will be allowed to occur. Trainer may need to supply a verbal explanation while simultaneously viewing the tape to reinforce principles. (I would have the person watch on their own before feeling the need to view with another present. In general I think the videos are very good but very explicit. You could use the video in place of the verbal instructions indicated in the hierarchy).
  8. For individuals with more significant challenges, consider use of ABA type
    approach (preferably done with relatively unfamiliar trainer) to teach more
    successful masturbatory technique. Shape up steps one at a time (e.g. “Pull pants
    and underwear down”, “Lay on belly”, “Put pillow between legs”, “Rock from side to
    side”. Or “Pull pants down”, “Sit on bed”. “Put fingers around penis”, “Rub up and
    down, up and down.”) – I have heard of this method, but I do not know anyone personally who has ever instructed on masturbation at this level.  I would want to have a very comprehensive plan on how this would be implemented, full team support, and special attention paid to protecting the individual being instructed and the person doing the instruction.