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.

Learning from Temple Grandin

I had the honor of presenting at the Champaign-Urbana Autism Conference where Temple Grandin was the key note speaker. So much of her message could be applied to human sexuality instruction.

  • Don’t yell “no!” Calmly tell people what they should be doing. (Dr. Grandin was talking about putting her finger in her water cup at the dinner table, but the same rule applies to masturbation).
  • Give lots and lots of examples of what falls within a category and it will eventually build up the concept you are working on. (Dr. Grandin was talking about understanding church steeples but the same strategy can be used to understand body parts).
  • Once you have a concept down use that concept to expand. (Dr. Grandin was talking about airplanes, but the same principle applies to privacy – one you get private body parts down you can use the concept of privacy to understand places and ideas).
  • And from Eustacia Cutler (Dr. Grandin’s mother), “The more we understand how autism [and sexuality] works the less anxious we become.” And sexuality added.

I focused on goals for sexuality instruction across the lifespan (exploring, understanding boundaries, coping with changes, and living your story) as well as modalities for instruction (socialization, formal lessons, behavior planning, and advocacy).  You can find my presentation here.

 

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.

Signs of Flirting

Flirting can be a difficult subject to talk about because it always varies. This aid has some typical behaviors that are flirting, maybe flirting, and not flirting. It’s important to note that this is not a exhaustive list and that some of these behaviors are not guarantees of flirty or not flirty behavior, but it is a great place to start the conversation.  This activity can be used to steer a conversation about how and when flirting occurs, and the fluidity of these behaviors.

Download the signs of Flirting activity here.