Sexual Abuse Self Protection Resources

Shirley Paceley is based out of Blue Tower Training in Decatur, Illinois.  She has been working with individuals with developmental disabilities for over 30 years and has specific expertise in abuse prevention and intervention.  She is available to do trainings and consultations.

Check out this online store for books and resources developed by Shirley and others for teaching about sexuality and sexual abuse prevention.

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.

Dave Hingsburger- Blogger, Advocate, Educator

For those you how enjoy following blogs, and especially for those of you who enjoy blogs that feature individuals with disabilities, and particularly if you would like to read more about disability and sexuality- this blog is for you.

Dave Hingsburger is behind many of the resources from Diverse City Press such as Handmade Love/Finger Tips (masturbation education), No How (abuse prevention), and Undercover Dick (condom use).  He also has written several books such as The Key (supporting individuals with disabilities who are also sexual offenders), R: The R Word (bullying self-advocacy), and Just Say Know (victimization).  This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea.

Enjoy!

Making Visuals

There are many different ways to make visuals: cut and paste from magazines, jot down words and images, use Boardmaker, use power point…

For each method there are different pros and cons and a lot can be said for something that’s just plain easy to use.  I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with a visual that has been made quickly- if it gets the message across, it doesn’t have to look nice.

But sometimes it is important for for a visual to be ascetically pleasing- and I wanted to share a free tool that’s available for making infographics (what marketers and advertisers call visual supports).  It’s not particularly easy to use and it takes more time, but in the end you have a nice looking product.  I would use this I wanted to make something I could use over and over (it’s worth the time) or if I was working with someone who thinks my regular visuals are “babyish”.  You have to be careful about resisting the temptation to over clutter.  There are several different generators, but for no cost, this one has the most flexibility and is relatively easy to use.  http://www.easel.ly/

This visual goes along with the “What Should I do?” exercise we did during the workshop.  You can download this visual as a PDF.

Human Sexuality 101 Week 5- Crushes

This topic generated a lot of good discussion.  Our group was a little distracted today (maybe because we had a week break).  For next week we’re going to try a few different classroom management strategies so we can try to spend more time focused.  We’re going to simplify the rights and the responsibilities and give them 3 rules (no talking when I’m talking, no hitting, and no mean comments).  We’ll also use a visual stop sign for if the group gets out of control.  I’ll keep you posted how it goes!  Having said that, despite distractions, I’m confident the group did learn a few things about crushes.

Activities this week…

What is a crush?

Students brainstormed what a person with a crush might be thinking and feeling.  Students varied in their level of understanding as to what a crush is.  This activity helped students understand that crushes are a special set of thoughts and feelings about another person.  They will learned from each other what those thoughts and feelings are.  None of the students in our group expressed ideas about what a crush is that would not be safe if acted upon (I was thinking someone might say something like, “I just want to stare at the person all the time and follow them around.”) We were ready to address any of the items from the brainstorm that were unsafe.   In later discussion we labeled some ideas as unsafe.

How to deal with a crush

We’re used a short video to outline four steps for managing a crush: don’t tell everyone, hang out with mutual friends, talk to them directly, and don’t take it personal if they don’t like you back.  As we watched the video we filled out a worksheet.  The video gives very concrete advice for how to manage a crush.  The questions on the worksheet helped students think about what they might say and how they may feel when trying to manage a crush.

This is where they got a little distracted.  In the future, I would shorten the worksheet so there is only one question per tip.  I would maybe have them work on answering the questions with a partner, then sharing with the group.

Turning someone down

We introduced students to three strategies for turning someone down or saying “NO”: no with a reason, no with an alternative, and no and go.  We introduced these strategies as a way to avoid unwanted crushes.  They can be used in many contexts, but especially in the future, could be use to avoid unwanted sexual behavior.  Students role-played saying no in different ways to someone who has a crush on them.  The role-plays worked really well!  Role-playing can be difficult but it’s a great tool for rehearsing concepts that your hoping students will be able to perform in 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

Spanish Language Resources

I’ve been working on a training for parents who are primarily Spanish speakers so I’ve been looking for materials available in Spanish.  I hit the jackpot when I translated my search terms into Spanish.  I thought you might be interested in my Spanish Resource List.

Free Resources in Spanish Specific to Youth with Disabilities

Books in Spanish and English Specific to Youth with Disabilities

Free Parent Resources in Spanish and English not Specific to Youth with Disabilities

Living Safer Sexual Lives- Training Pack

Living Safer Sexual Lives is a training pack available for purchase ($57.23) for those of you who may be doing training on human sexuality and disabilities.  I have not personally used their materials, but it was developed in a very interesting way and it’s not very expensive so I thought I’d pass it along.  A research group in Australia interviewed several people with intellectual disability about their sexual lives and then used their stories to develop this training.  The training is targeted toward parents, professionals, and self advocates.  The training pack has three parts: introduction, training, and resources (including a DVD of people with intellectual disability telling their stories).

You can read the full report which outlines the findings from the interviews and how they used the interviews to shape the training.  The report also includes accounts from people with disabilities about their sexuality.

The key themes that emerged from the stories were:

  • Diversity and similarity. Diversity within the lives of the story-tellers and similarities between needs and desires of this group and other adults.
  • The issues of rights and sexuality.
  • The hidden nature of people’s sexual lives.
  • Celebration of sexuality and relationships.
  • Gender issues.
  • Loneliness and rejection.

Impact: A Newsletter

A workshop participant put me in touch with this awesome resource (thanks Cate!).  Impact is a newsletter from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration which is part of their Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.  They have many products and services that you may find useful (many of which are available online or at little cost).  Their newsletters contain ” strategies, research, and success stories in specific focus areas related to persons with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. ”

The sexuality issue has several interesting articles written by individuals with disabilities, service providers, family, and community members.  In addition to the articles, the newsletter provides information about additional resources in several areas: education, parent support, advocacy, sexual health, and sexual safety.

The story in Impact that touched me the most was one about two men who were harshly punished for their love for one another while institutionalized but were finally able to be married.  Once they were both living in group homes and reunited…”they decided they would not live together, they would not have sex, until they were married.  They had been punished so often, told continuously that they were dirty, sinful, hateful creatures, that they needed to get married ‘liked other people.'”  Dave Hingsburger* commented “How we hate the hearts of people with disabilities!  We have caged their bodies, disfigured their genitals, drugged their thoughts.  But we have never, ever captured their hearts or controlled their spirits.”

*The link in the text is to Dave Hingsburger’s blog.  He is the author of several resources for teaching human sexuality and abuse prevention to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The resources can be found at Diverse City Press.

Free Curriculum and Parent Resources

A lot of the curriculum we used for the puberty unit of our Human Sexuality 101 group was adapted from “Teaching Sexual Health“.  They are a group out of Canada that provides support for teachers and parents.  I used their general curriculum but they also have a curriculum for students of differing ability levels.  They have great resources for parents including “webisodes” that give examples of parents talking to kids about sexuality topics.  The website is very well organized and easy to use!

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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.

Autism Now- A Resource

Autism Now isn’t specifically focused on topics related to sexuality but they do have some great resources I thought I could highlight.

They have a series of webinars related to sexuality topics. If you click on the link you’ll be taken to a registration box that you have to fill out to view the material.  I’ve also included links to the slides- this is a direct link, you don’t need to register.

Slides:  “Sex is when people use their bodies together to share love and pleasure.”

Slides: “Research says that the IQ has to be below 50 before you can say IQ and parenting skill are connected (Feldman& Tymchuk, 2002).”

And they just had one on May 15th, but you’ll have to keep an eye on the archive list because it’s not up yet-  “Let’s Talk About Sex: Discussing the Topics of Sex, Protection, and/or Sexuality from Three Unique Viewpoints”

In addition to the webinars they have some general “fact sheet” style info that might be helpful on topics such as dating, marriage, divorce, relationships, sexuality, parenting, and friendships.  These include general information as well as parent tips.

I was really impressed by the quality and quantity of ASD related resources on a variety of topics so it’s a good one to have in your tool belt.

I just wanted to link to one other power point presentation that I thought had a lot of good information.  “Sexuality & Sexuality Instruction with Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities” by Peter F. Gerhardt, Ed.D., Director The McCarton Upper School

Gender Identity and Disability

During the workshop we talk a little bit about gender identity and gender fluidity but I thought it might make sense to talk about this topic more in depth.  Parks, Hall, and Taylor* looked at gender dysphoria (discontent with with biological sex) with individuals with cognitive disabilities and suggest “Developing a gender dysphoria or wanting to cross-dress usually has ramifications for the person’s family and social network, perhaps more so with people with intellectual disability, who may be more dependent on family and paid caregivers and have less choice about who is in their network. They may experience more hostility and gain less appropriate support from their network.”  But there is still very little information about how common it is, why for some individuals gender is more fluid (have a wide flexible range of gender expression), and how best to support individuals with disabilities with issues related to gender.   This topic also raises issues related to guardianship and self determination.  Some individuals start going on puberty suppressants and hormone replacement starting in adolescence so their bodies can match the gender they express and the gender they identify with.  For people with disabilities, who gets to make that choice?

Could having a developmental disability lead to difficulties with gender identity?

This is a little difficult to answer.  There are very few studies ask this question.  In Holland they looked at co-morbidity of ASD and gender disorders * and did find more individuals with ASD coming to their clinic then you would expect.  However individuals with ASD may be tapped into to services which might account for this difference.  When individuals with disabilities seek support they may be unable to give an accurate history and professionals in this area may be unfamiliar with working with people with disabilities which could lead to false impressions.

Given how little is known, where can I go for more information?

There are new clinical guidelines that address how clinicians should assess and support individuals with autism and persistent gender dysphoria. The new clinical guidelines (there haven’t been any in the past) affirm the right of individuals with autism to obtain gender realignment. It also affirms that many individuals with autism experience gender outside the male-female binary. Check out a reader friendly overview of the guidelines on Spectrum News.

Gender Spectrum is a great place to start looking for more information.  This is a website that can link families with medical, mental health, social, and legal services.  The have great definitions of all the different terminology and a great overview of gender development.

Here is also a This American Life podcast that features interviews with two little girls who were born as biological males and their families.  For me, it was really eye opening and helped me connect this topic to real people.

On May 19th the Washington Post published an article on this topic (which I thought was really well done) featuring a little boy named Tyler.  The story had almost 2,500 comments 5 days later.  They published a follow up article about the response on May 21st, “I heard from transgendered senior citizens who lamented their decades living a lie.  I got e-mails from confused parents who had their aha moment when they read Tyler’s story.  And sure, I heard from the haters”.  This article not only has nice information but also speaks to the relevance and controversy surrounding this topic.

*This links to the abstract of the article.  Unfortunately, the full text of the article is not available for free online.

Supporting People with Disabilities with BEING Sexuality Educators

What does supporting people with disabilities with BEING sexuality educators?

It’s all about self-advocacy!

According to SDC (UIC’s Institute on Disability and Human Development and their Sexuality and Disability Consortium (SDC), “Sexual Self-Advocacy means: People with disabilities taking control of their own sexuality by making their own decisions and speaking up for themselves and others about sexuality.”

As sexuality educators, individuals with disabilities can be…

  • Safe people for their friends to talk to
  • Knowledgeable sources of information
  • Leaders and co-leaders in educational sessions
  • Models of healthy sexual relationships
  • Advocates for raising awareness about sexuality topics
  • Fill in the blank ____________

This is a great webinar to learn more about how to advance sexual self-advocacy for people with disabilities.

Another great resource for learning more about sexual self-advocacy is  The Green Mountain Self-Advocates.  They have developed materials for self-advocates interested in teach human sexuality (as well as many other topics).

SDC recommends the Developmental Disabilities and Sexuality Curriculum which has a self-advocacy component built in.

Teaching About Joking

Here is an activity you may want to try out for teaching about joking in context.  Joking is really difficult because it’s very nuanced.  It can be a great way to connect with people but also hurtful.  I also think it is difficult because of the educational context- jokes that aren’t appropriate at school, work, etc. It might be okay in some places but it feels weird saying- “yeah, it’s okay to tell fart jokes with your friends.”  It really easy to cross over from actual social skills to formal social skills.