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.

 

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.

How to Explain Sex to Someone with an Intellectual Disability

This may be more difficult than it appears at first.  I like to communicate and teach broad and complex ideas about what sex is, but this can be really difficult for folks to grasp at first.  I usually start out talking about reproduction because it’s a little more concrete and then move into sex more generally once reproductive intercourse, erection, ejaculation, and arousal have been covered.  So lets start with those (and I’ll toss in a couple other concepts that may be difficult to explain).  These are how I explain these concepts, but a curriculum you use may have other suggestions you find helpful.  I used board maker pictures here, but real pictures would also be appropriate in many cases.

Arousal: “When you have sexy feelings and you feel tingly or excited all over your body especially in your private area*.”

*You could substitute genitals, vulva, or penis for private area to be more concrete.  Sometimes with middle school students I say “you know where” to be intentionally more vague- but only if I’m confident they do know where.

Erection: “When blood fills the penis making it harder and bigger”.  I follow this up with the why it happens, “because you have sexy feelings.  You feel aroused.”

Sometimes I add, the blood fills up the spongy tissue of the penis, but other times I omit the blood part and just say the penis gets harder and bigger.  This would depend on the level of complexity the individual can handle.

Ejaculation/Orgasm: “You have sexy feelings, your body feels really good, and you get so excited that you have an orgasm- a big burst of sensation*.” If they have a penis, I add “then fluid comes out of the penis.”  If they have a vulva, I add “then some fluid may come out of the vagina”.  If they ask what kind of fluid you could add, “a sticky milky fluid” and then if they have a penis, “with sperm in it.”

*If sensation is an inappropriate word you could replace it with feelings.

Reproductive Intercourse: “When a person put their penis in another person’s vagina and releases sperm, ejaculates.  If the sperm meets with an egg then the person might get pregnant.  A baby might grow inside the uterus.”

As students are first learning I do call this sex but once they have this I build that sex is bigger than just one act.  It is heteronormative* to present reproductive intercourse as if it was sex.  It could make students who are not interested in vaginal intercourse feel as if their form of sexual expression is less valid.  At the same time, the students that I work with are often overwhelmed by all the new information and have difficulty navigating all the nuances.  When I call this form of sex, “sex”, I do match it with vaginal sex, reproductive intercourse, or intercourse to allude to the idea that there are other forms of sex.

*If you’re not familiar with the term heteronormative, it refers to when heterosexuality is used as the default.  It also refers to other lifestyles that are considered the default.  For example, a heteronormative definition of family would be if you used, implicitly or explicitly, a husband, a wife, and children as the definition of family.

Wet Dream: “Sometimes when you’re sleeping you have have sexy feelings.  These feelings can be so good that you may get really excited in your sleep.  You may feel so good that fluid comes out of your body.”

If they know erection and ejaculation, you can use those words too but I try to limit my use of those words if I’m not confident they have a full conception of the terms.

People with vulvas can have wet dreams too! Regardless of whether there is ejaculation, having organisms and arousal during sleep can be scary. It is an important thing to prepare children for as their bodies change with puberty.

Sex: “Sex is when two people have sexy feelings they want to share with each other so they touch each other’s private parts to make each other feel good.”  You can expand it further, “A person might put their penis inside a person’s vagina.  Sometimes people kiss and lick each other’s vulva or penis.  A person might put their penis inside a person’s anus*.”  If they ask why someone has sex, I would answer “Either because they want to have a baby, because they love each other and they want to share those feelings, or because they want to have fun.”

*I would use butthole if I thought that was a word the person understood better.  In this definition, I’ve defined sex as anal, vaginal, or oral intercourse.

Sperm/Egg: The cells inside a persons body that have genetic information.

Not all folks will grasp the concept of genetic information but they will probably know that it means scientific or medical information.

Next week, well be covering reproduction in Human Sexuality 101 so look check out the curriculum for that section for more information.