The Autism-Friendly Guide to Periods is a comprehensive guide for people ages 9-16. This book covers the basics of menstruation and offers direct advice on what exactly to expect when you start your period. On top of this, it provides advice for everyone, not just the person menstruating. This book offers advice to the parents or caregivers, and alleviates some anxiety that people face when asking for help. This book was created in consultation with young people and doctors, so it’s a great resource.
The author of The Autism-Friendly Guide to Periods, Robyn Steward, is Autistic herself, and made this book accessible and as inclusive as possible. This book is written in plain language, is straightforward, and suits the needs of Autistic individuals. The book offers step-by-step photos and instructions on how to change pads/tampons, and discusses alternatives to those. She also highlights what may be sensory issues for autistic people.
It’s extremely important for Autistic individuals (and those around them) to have a plan for handling menstruation. Someone’s first period can be a stressful, painful, and anxiety-inducing experience. Stress can be planned for an alleviated with careful education and preparation. This book is a fantastic resource and a great way to open up conversation about periods. For more information on planning for menstruation, check here: https://asdsexed.org/2012/06/08/menstruation-plan-26/
The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) was founded by parents and grandparents. OAR strives to use science to address social, educational, and treatment concerns in the Autism community. Their mission is to fund research, provide useful information and resources to the community, as well as hold programs to improve quality of life for individuals with Autism.
The OAR has put together an online guide for sexuality and sex ed. This guide is self-paced and intended for people on the Autism Spectrum aged 15 and older. This guide consists of nine modules: Public vs Private, Puberty, Healthy Relationships, Consent, Dating 101, Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity, Am I Ready?, Sexual Activity, Online Relationships and Safety. Each module consists of a video overview and 10-15 smaller sections.
This guide is completely free and can be accessed at the link below:
While the mainstream is becoming increasingly aware and accepting of disabilities, there is still a lack of representation. People with both physical and intellectual disabilities rarely ever see people like them in books, movies, on TV, or in many other forms of entertainment. On top of this, resources regarding sexual health, relationships, and puberty for disabled individuals practically don’t exist.
Woodbine House is a publishing company that specializes in informational books for individuals with intellectual disabilities. They have many books aimed at all different age groups that provide information on an array of topics pertaining to disabilities. On their website, they have different sections for Down Syndrome, Autism, and ADHD/ADD. Some of their sexual health based books include: Teaching Children With Down Syndrome About Their Bodies, Boundaries and Sexuality, Boyfriends & Girlfriends: A Guide to Dating for People with Disabilities, and A Boys/Girls Guide to Growing Up. These books help teach people to identify body parts, how to identify/express emotions, personal hygiene, dealing with puberty, relationship safety and many other things.
Every one of their books features people with the disability they’re discussing, and they provide accurate and accessible books for all ages. These books are non-clinical and easy to read, and they are intended for everyday use. On top of this, they’re extremely accessible and informational. This company consistently provides parents and children with informational books that are practical, empathetic and empowering, and they push disabled issues into the public eye. It is a great example of increasing representation and inclusivity in media!
Mad Hatter Wellness is a company that creates comprehensive sexual health programs that teach and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Their curriculum Sexuality for All Abilities, contains activities and lessons that cover many different topics regarding sexuality and relationships. This is a holistic program that combines mindfulness techniques to address sexuality topics and provides a safe environment that ensures growth and learning. They offer a student and an adult option of the curriculum and can be purchased for $375 at the link below.
On top of this, Mad Hatter Wellness also sells other tools to help teach and practice topics that are covered in the curriculum. Their Boundaries Flip Book that form sentences regarding boundaries. It created discussion for healthy boundaries, as well as highlights what is okay and what isn’t, and when these behaviors are appropriate. On top of this, they also have a Family Discussion Guide, which offers activities, information, and discussion questions that will help families discuss healthy relationships and boundaries. In addition to these, they offer self-paced online courses, and more physical resources that can be used to implement the curriculum.
While many other household items are changing and being developed more accessibly, any industries regarding sex often stay avoided. Sex is such a taboo topic in general, even more so in the disabled community. There are many rumors and assumptions made about sexuality in the disabled community, the most prevalent myth is that people with any type of disabilities don’t have sex or experience sexual pleasure. However, that’s not true. Sex is a basic human function, and everyone, regardless of ability, is entitled to it. Many times, sex toys are extremely inaccessible for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Whether they’re not easy to physically work with, or they’re too stimulating, sex toys aren’t usually designed with all types of bodies in mind.
Come As You Are is an online business specializing in high-quality, ethically sourced, and affordable sex toys for all ability levels. This company has a wide variety of sex toys that are designed to work for people with all types of disabilities. When making their toys, they keep topics like mobility, privacy, fatigue, and many others in mind when creating sex toys. They are very transparent about how their toys are made, and they take suggestions about how to better improve their toys and make them more inclusive. They say, “It’s our experience that doesn’t come ‘naturally’ to everyone. We consider it our responsibility to do the hard work that makes it easier to explore.”
On top of this, their website has many articles and resources that talk about inclusivity in the sex industry. Their articles discuss choosing the right sex toy depending on your ability, information about condoms, and many other aspects of sexuality. They encourage embracing sexuality healthily, despite your skill level, and are pushing the sex industry in a more inclusive direction!
The Sexual Health for Individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (SHEIDD) project promotes comprehensive and accessible sex education for youth with with intellectual or developmental disabilities. They’ve interviewed individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and found out what they want from sexual education. They’ve co-created guidelines for educators, parents, peers, or other individuals associated with someone with a DD (which they call “support people). These guidelines are holistic, and they help individuals understand themselves, what their rights are, how to express themselves, and how to build healthy relationships. The SHEIDD project also provides resources, trainings, and teaching tools on their website. They partner with various organizations around the country and help to holistically educate individuals with disabilities.
These guidelines are free to anyone, and can be accessed at the link below:
Oak Hill Center for Relationship and Sexuality Education (CRSE) looks to educate and increase access to important sexual health information through various preventative programs. They also aim to decrease the vulnerability to sexual abuse that the intellectual/developmental disability community endures. They offer different curriculums, workbooks, parent/caregiver workshops, professional development workshops and therapeutic education.
Their most recent curriculum, Positive Choices, is designed for secondary students and aims to improve critical judgement about sexual health and relationship safety. On top of this, students will learn life skills, safe boundaries, women’s and men’s health, healthy relationships, and sexuality. This curriculum can be purchased on the Oak Hills website and costs $430. The teacher’s manual can be purchased for $180, and the student workbook is $25. Information is linked below: http://relationshipandsexuality.oakhillct.org/positive-choices/
Open Future Learning is a company that offers a wide variety of online training for staff, or anyone else working with individuals with disabilities. They offer modules in abuse prevention, communication, advocacy, and many more topics. They have staff training modules, 30 minute programs, and an audio learning module. Membership can range from $112-$2263 per month, depending on the amount of active users. Linked below is Open Future’s Homepage.
Health Connection is a company that designs sex education curriculum for teachers. Teen Talk: Adapted for All Abilities is an adaptation of their Teen Talk curriculum, and is designed to cater to 7th to 12th grade students with disabilities. This is an adaptation of This curriculum focuses on tolerance, respect, and personal values articulation. It addresses topics like sexuality, gender roles, and reproductive healthcare. This curriculum also uses gender inclusive language. The Adapted for All Abilities can be purchased for $345 (plus tax). You can find more information at the link below:
Elevatus offers a variety trainings staff, direct support professionals, educators, self-advocates and parents to teach sexuality education to children and adults with developmental disabilities. In addition to their trainings, Elevatus has a sex education curriculum that can be purchased.
Here are examples of some of their trainings and the costs:
For Staff and Professionals – Developmental Disabilities and Sexuality 101 ($397)
For Parents/Guardians – Talking With Your Kids: Developmental Disability and Sexuality ($47)
In-service/live workshops and a 3-Day Certificate Training ($725) for anyone who wants to lead sexuality education classes with people with developmental disabilities.
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.
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.
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 Disabilityalso 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.
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.