Sexuality Resources for Parents

Raising an individual with a disability presents a different set of obstacles then an abled individual may, but one topic that all parents must address is sexuality. Individuals with disabilities are sexual beings and therefore deserve an education on sexuality. While parents may acknowledge this need, finding resources and strategies to present the information may be more difficult if you are raising an individual who requires a different method of learning.

The Sexuality Resource Center for Parents provides a well rounded variety of information pertaining to sexuality. The website includes a section of information labeled “for all parents” that contains subjects they believe are useful for all children. In addition, they provide sections titles “For parents of children of typical development”, “For parents of children with developmental disabilities”, and “For parents of children with physical disabilities”. In each section, you can find a variety of information such as basics, specifics, activities, and additional resources. They also include tip guides!

The Sexuality Resource Center for Parents works to provide a better, comprehensive information base for parents to use when addressing sexuality to their child. The variety of knowledge is extremely useful when trying to find information to meet your child’s specific needs. In their own words, their mission statement claims “It’s time to acknowledge that children with developmental disabilities will become adults with sexual feelings, and as such, we must provide them with the information and skills they’ll need to become sexually healthy adults.

http://www.srcp.org/index.html

Sex Education for Individuals with I/DD

Sexual Education is known to be a vital part of education that many people with disabilities do not receive. The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) developed an excellent series of youtube videos aimed to help close this gap. The sex ed for individuals with I/DD project is a 10 part video series that can be seen on youtube. The project contains videos that discuss a range of important sexual information from healthy relationships and consent to how to use a condom. The videos also contain self advocates. Understanding that individuals with disabilities are sexual beings and informing such individuals on all sexual topics is extremely important. The NCIL’s video series is an amazing resource. Linked below is the introduction video to the series. The videos can also be accessed though the Nation Council on Independent Living youtube channel.

NCIL Sex Education for Individuals with I/DD Project video one

Accessible Lingerie

In a world of increasing accessibility, more and more clothing brands have begun producing products with accessible modifications. Unfortunately, undergarments and lingerie are important categories often forgotten. Individuals with disabilities are sexual beings and have the right to feel confident in their own bodies just as able-bodied individuals, and accessible underwear is a major factor in this.

In order to shine a light on these hidden categories, it is important to understand what accessible undergarments aim to do. Accessible underwear provides clothing that can be used by individuals with disabilities; Understanding that not everyone can use common closures or typical underwear styles. Accessible lingerie is also a growing category.

Slick Chicks, a growing adaptive underwear business, is a prime example of a company combatting this issue and empowering individuals with disabilities. The company sells a variety of accessible underwear and includes many images and videos to show just how easy it is to use their garments. They are specialized for women who may be in wheelchairs or have limited mobility but can be used to improve the accessibility of underwear for many individuals.

Another excellent resource is Devovere, an Etsy shop, aiming to provide lingerie that is made for you. Through custom orders an individual can request front-facing closures or adjusters, velcro closings rather than clips or buttons, extra fastenings, and more for no extra price. The owner of the company identifies as disabled and has set out to make inclusive clothing.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DevovereOnline

https://slickchicksonline.com

AUCD: Sex Talk for Self-Advocates

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities has created an incredible resource for self-advocates to gain sexual information and advice through a webinar series. The first episode of Sex Talk for Self-Advocates contains a panel of sexual educators answering questions about relationships and sexuality posed by self-advocates. Important questions such as “How do you know if someone is your boyfriend or girlfriend? What exactly does consent mean? How to be gay?” are discussed. The webinar series can be accessed through the AUCD website, linked below, or by going to AUCD network’s youtube channel. The presentation slides containing information from the video can also be found on the AUCD website. Sex Talk for Self Advocates is a great free resource that contains informed speakers and spreads sexual education to a diverse group of individuals.

The link to AUCD network is attached above, containing a preview of the webpage.

Wait, What: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up

The recently released comic book, “Wait, What: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up” by Heather Corinna and Isabelle Rotman gives insight to a sexuality, gender, and related issues in an inclusive and fun format. From the publishers:

“Join friends Malia, Rico, Max, Sam and Alexis as they talk about all the weird and exciting parts of growing up! This supportive group of friends are guides for some tricky subjects. Using comics, activities and examples, they give encouragement and context for new and confusing feelings and experiences.

Inclusive of different kinds of genders, sexualities, and other identities, they talk about important topics like:

– Bodies, including puberty, body parts and body image
– Sexual and gender identity
– Gender roles and stereotypes
– Crushes, relationships, and sexual feelings
– Boundaries and consent
– The media and cultural messages, specifically around bodies and sex
– How to be sensitive, kind, accepting, and mature
– Where to look for more information, support and help

A fun and easy-to-read guide from expert sex educators that gives readers a good basis and an age-appropriate start with sex, bodies and relationships education! The perfect complement to any school curriculum.”

Sexuality and Disability: A Guide for Women with Disabilities

Sexuality and Disability is a free blog dedicated to providing a resource for women with disabilities. The blog answers questions pertaining to sex, the body, relationships, and more in a safe and open discussion. The welcome statement of the website encompasses this;

“Our site starts with the premise that people with disabilities are sexual beings – just like anyone else. sexualityanddisability.org is constructed as a bunch of questions a woman with a disability might have – about her body, about the mechanics and dynamics of having sex, about the complexities of being in an intimate relationship or having children, about unvoiced fears or experiences of encountering abuse in some form.”

Sexuality and Disability also includes an award-winning section that appeals to many individuals with disabilities that contains stories from the point of view of an individual with a disability and gives an in depth and realistic view on sexual topics.

Image depicts the webpage described in the post, Sexuality and Disability.

Capacity to Consent to Sexual Activity among Those with Developmental Disabilities

The Stanford Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Law and Policy Project released a report focused on the Capacity to Consent to Sexual Activity among Those with Developmental Disabilities (link takes you to the page where you can freely download the report). The report provides historical background, the current state of the field, and capacity definitions. There are no federal statutes defining sexual assault and consent – each state has its own statutes. The report highlights six standards for consent used in various states: morality, nature and the consequences, totality of the circumstances, nature of the conduct, judgement, and evidence of disability. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) provides easy access to the laws in each state (link takes you to their state law finder). As wording in state statutes can be vague, judicial decisions help provide guidance for interpreting the statutes. The report from Stanford Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Law and Policy Project provides summaries of judicial decision for each state. This report is an important tool for both victim rights and sexual autonomy advocates.

Talking About Sex: Sexuality Education for Learners with Disabilities

From the Publishers:

Key social and emotional milestones during adolescence are often directly related to the abilities to initiate and maintain intimate relationships, maintain physically maturing bodies, and manage personal sexuality. Most adolescents with developmental disabilities have particular difficulty expressing sexuality in satisfying ways, consequently facing issues such as limited intimate relationships, low self-esteem, increased social isolation, deregulated emotional maintenance, reduced sexual functioning, and limited sexual health.
Appropriate sexual knowledge assists not only in achieving personal fulfillment, but protection from mistreatment, abuse, unplanned pregnancies, or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It also works to help solve problems of loneliness and problems with self-esteem.
This book will address this but also much more. Issues of physical and cognitive development will be discussed, including appropriate sexual development/urges and brain development, and innate similarities and differences of sexuality that could occur between people with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual or developmental disabilities, including the complexities of physical disabilities. The authors will also consider special considerations for group homes and recreational facilities, and specifically focus on concepts of ethics and models of consent (medical, legal, social, and educational), as well as how to deal with uncertainty.

Anatomical Puzzles for Children

Both Hape and Melissa & Doug have made anatomically correct body puzzles.

Hape sells boy and girl puzzles separately for around $20.00 each.  The children are pre-pubescent and European American.  The video below shows a child completing the puzzle. The toys are distributed by Hape but are actually made by a company called Beleduc out of Holland. Beleduc also has a great pregnant mother puzzle that is a little difficult to find.

Melissa & Doug make a magnetic human body play set that includes children of both genders for about 13.00.  The children are early adolescents and European American.

Guest Room

Guest Room is a short film Written & Directed by Joshua Tate and starring Lauren Potter (“Glee”) and Michael Iovine (lovelandfilm.com).  It won the Audience Award (Competition Short) at SXSW 2015.

I think you are going to love this movie.  It’s beautiful, emotional, and honest.  I could easily see this being used in a human sexuality classroom to help discuss parenting, consent, and support from families.  It follows the story of a young couple who are faced in a situation many young couples find themselves in, an unexpected pregnancy.  Like many young couples, the response of their families  is shock and disappointment and this makes it difficult to determine their own feelings, hopes, and wants.

 

There was one statistic that was mentioned in the film that I had not heard before.  It said that a women with Down Syndrome has a 50% chance of having a child with Down Syndrome.  I did a little digging to see if I could find out more and received some help from The Tech Geneticist a  project from the University of Stanford which seeks to increase the public understanding of genetics.  About half of the eggs of a women with Down Syndrome will have an extra 21st chromosome (similar to what is described in this post http://genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask296).  Her actual chance of having a child with Down Syndrome is less than 50% because fetuses with extra 21st chromosomes are at increased risk of complications.  According to the National Down Syndrome Society only about 50% of women with Down Syndrome are fertile (ovulate).

It’s trickier when it comes to thinking about the father.  Much less is known about the heritability (chance of passing a genetic trait on) of Down Syndrome for men with Down Syndrome, but it may be that their sperm that carry two 21st chromosomes would be less viable than their sperm that only have one.  Both the Tech Geneticist and the National Down Syndrome Society suggested men with Down Syndrome seem to have much lower fertility rates than their same age peers with two 21st chromosomes.

 

Autism in Love

The 1 hour and 13 minute movie, Autism in Love, is about falling in love, wanting to fall in love, the struggle of understanding love, and heartbreak. More than that, this movie is about what it means to be autistic, how love shapes identity, and the support of family. There are multiple viewing options but it is currently airing for free on Independent Lens.  It follows the stories of four individuals on the autism spectrum as they navigate issues of love and relationships.

Here is a guide for using the film as a teaching tool: Autism in Love Viewing Guide

This movie is more geared toward adults as the youngest person featured in the film is in his early 20s and much of the film centers on marriage. If you were working with older teens, you may want to focus on Lenny.

Puberty and Adolescence Resource: A Guide for Parents

puberty_coverThis tool kit from ATN/AIR-P provides information on body changes; self-care and hygiene; public vs. private rules; staying safe: strangers, secrets and touch; elopement; safety planning for increased aggression; and Internet safety.

Some of my favorite features:

  • Link to underwear designed to keep menstrual pads in place (I had no idea this existed!)
  • They have parent stories throughout.
  • They have suggestions for how occupational therapy can provide support.

The Healthy Bodies Toolkit

Healthy bodiesThis publication was developed and written by Vanderbilt Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND).  There is a boy version and girl version.  Each version has a booklet for parents or teachers and supplemental materials which include storyboards and visuals that you can use in implementing the methods outlined in the toolkit.  It is free and there is a Spanish version!

Here is the website: https://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/HealthyBodies/

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

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.