Over the summer, I did a 8 week sexuality class with middle school students with autism (3 boys and 3 girls). I’ve posted each lesson from the curriculum, but I thought I’d link all the posts together so you could get to them in one place. For each session there is a lesson plan, parent letter, and power point slides. Some lessons also have worksheets. I’ve also commented about how the lessons went and some ideas for adaptation. Click on the links below to go to the posts and access the materials.
*We sent home a workbook with follow up/supplemental material during this lesson. The workbook is available on the post.
The main activity this week was a series of worksheets designed around walking participants through the steps of having a crush: places to meet someone, why you notice someone, deciding to talk to them or not, signs of being interested, approaching someone, asking out on a date, and saying “No”. Probably the most difficult question on the worksheets was, “why do you notice this person?” Many of the participants focused on things the would like if they got to know someone. It took several prompts, but they were able to start thinking about the things they notice about others, the things that draw their attention. When we got to different ways to approach someone there were many questions on bar etiquette. We talked about buying drinks for others, when it’s expected to approach people and when it’s not, and the difference between the bar sitting area and table sitting area. We didn’t get to our final activity, but were were going to sequence the road map with pictures of couples at different stages. We have a little bit of a time management problem because there’s no clock in the room. It’s the little things!
We gave them two additional resources this week. First we sent them to a website on how to build self confidence. We also suggested the book, What Men With Asperger Syndrome Want to Know About Women, Dating and Relationships by Maxine Aston.
Get all the materials for this weeks lesson
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.
Teaching and learning about privacy can be difficult and confusing. This activity uses a continuum of privacy (using private, semi-private, and public) to help differentiate privacy levels. There are two topics: body parts and places. You can use this activity to explain different privacy levels and explain contextual differences (i.e. a stomach can be a public body part at the beach, but a private body part at school) . Download the privacy activity places and body parts here!
An easy ready guide about abuse and neglect was forwarded along to me (thank you, Jennifer). I think most agencies have adapted abuse and neglect information readily accessible to the individuals they serve and comparatively, I thought this one was nicely done. It’s made with a product called Symbols for Life. Essentially, it’s a picture package featuring individuals with developmental disabilities. One copy is $298.00 and then additional copies are discounted. A lot of times, I like to make things with pictures of the individual I’m working with, but there are times when that is inappropriate/unfeasible. I think this could be a good source for those occasions.
Here’s the Say NO to Abuse pdf if you want to check it out.
I wanted to put you in touch with a website called “Living Well with Autism“. They have several Board Maker Social Stories related to privacy.
While I think overall this site has some nice ideas, I’d be careful about using “Good Touch Bad Touch”. Good/Bad may bring up feelings of guilt, could be over generalized, and might be confusing as an assault often starts with touches that feel good then moves to touches that feel bad. Also, there are some studies that have shown that children understand the word touch differently than adults. For example they wouldn’t categorize people kissing as touching, because well, they’re kissing. I think this could be a problem for someone with an intellectual disability that doesn’t categorize well. I like the terms safe and unsafe touch. I also like saying touching makes you feel something. If a touch feels good, it’s probably safe. If a touch doesn’t feel good it’s probably not safe. Then you can teach specific kinds of touches. Having said that, the site gives you some good Social Stories to start with. Pictured left is part of one of their stories.
Just another note on language. There is a movement among abuse prevention advocates to alter some our terminology when talking about sexual abuse prevention. I mention in my workshop that we have to be careful when talking about using education to help prevent sexual abuse because it implies that the individual is responsible for reducing his or her own risk. Alternative terminology includes personal safety skills, abuse-response skills, or self-protection skills.
It can be a little overwhelming to start thinking about communicating pictorially about human sexuality topics, but there are some supports available.
Many of you already use Board Maker (computer software that helps make visual supports and PECS). They have a “Communicating About Sexuality” add on that is very useful and only costs $15.00 (but you have to already have Board Maker).
If you would like some guidelines on how to approach augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in regards to sexuality Speak Up has resources that you may find useful. Speak Up is a group dedicated to preventing sexual abuse/victimization among people who use alternative communication. They have guidelines, suggestions for communication displays, and information about building sexual vocabulary. This group surveyed individuals who use AAC and found that ACC users say they need:
- People who recognize that they are sexual
- Information about sexuality
- Vocabulary to communicate about sexuality
- People to communicate with about sexuality
- Accessible resources and services
Sounds pretty darn reasonable to me.
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.
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.
These models are from http://jimjacksonanatomymodels.com/ It can be a little difficult to find the kind of anatomical model that you want for a sexual education class. I’ve used these models and I think they are very instructive. They are realistic so it may not be appropriate for all audiences but a lot of folks need things this concrete. If you’re teaching condom use, make sure to use vinyl condoms (latex condoms can hurt the models). The cost of the models ranges from $180 – $660 depending on what you’re getting. It’s an investment, but a great teaching tool. WebMD has nice anatomical line drawings that are okay to print for free. http://www.medscape.com/features/ald/repro Once you get into color photos, they usually ask you to pay. You can probably find some on the internet that don’t have water marks (like on webmd or mayo clinic ) but they are usually copyrighted. This site will give you a lot of options available for purchase http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/reproductive-system.html This site has more medically technical options (they also have online interactive models, but those are pretty technical too). http://catalog.nucleusinc.com/generateexhibit.php?ID=9591
Here is an example of a five point scale that was developed by April Keaton, LCSW, to explain the different levels of relationships. The pyramid shape was used to convey that you might have a lot of “friendly acquaintances” but much fewer “long term relationships”. It was important for this person to connect the level of the relationship with the level of intimacy so you see examples of intimate behaviors at each level of the pyramid. There’s also an element of time built into the descriptions. You wouldn’t have to start with pyramid filled out. You could start with a blank pyramid and support an individual with filling in the levels. You could add names of individuals at each level. You can download the pdf of this image by clicking here.
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.
I added atomically correct dolls to the resource list. This company has lesson plans available, but I have never used them. I have used the dolls before with middle school students to talk about how different people may be feeling. I also added a link to atomically correct models of reproductive organs that are more life like.
This is a social narrative in comic strip form. It supports initiating social interactions. One strip is for people you don’t know at all and the other strip is for people you know a little. I would use this in combination with role playing (can you tell I like role playing?). Over initiating and under initiating can both be a problem. This is geared more towards encouraging initiation, but it could be used to help establish boundaries too. The YAI relationship videos also cover some of this information. Click here to get as a pdf: How do I even start
If you attended the workshop you might remember an activity we did called “Boys/Girls/Both.” This activity was adapted from the F.L.A.S.H. curriculum. Basically, you give students 3 signs: one that says “boys”, one that says “girls”, and one that says “both.” You also hand out sheets of paper with different changes that happen during puberty (each sheet has its own item on it). You then instruct students to decide if the change happens to boys, girls, or both. I have created a visual support so instead of just having words you can also use pictures. Click here to get a pdf of the support:
Boys, Girls, Both pictures.