Sex and Parenting a Child with a Developmental Disability
Well, it finally happened in my house. I have an 11-year old son with Autism. He is very high functioning and participates in a regular education classroom. On his last day of school, some older children were talking to him and one told him to go ‘fuck’ a classmate, then explained that ‘fuck’ means to ‘put his penis into a vagina or asshole’. My son knew enough that this was inappropriate conversation for the school grounds, and for his younger sisters’ ears and told me about this later on out of their earshot.
Given that he is my son and not my daughter, my husband and I decided that dad should handle this conversation. Unfortunately, dad is not the sexuality educator in the house. I pulled out a great book from my library by Terri Couwenhoven: Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality
I opened the book to chapter 2 and told dad to read. I didn’t mean that he should read the chapter to my son, rather that he should read it and prepare himself for the conversation to come. Oh well, next time I’ll be more clear. But, what happened is that my son got a fairly thorough education. I told my husband to use every term he knew of for the anatomy and activities. This would help my son be better prepared for whatever words come his way. My husband was surprised that our son knew very little about terminology and his own body. What’s really cool is that he now has a ton of good, correct information, instead of the junk his fellow middle-schoolers would happily teach him.
What I want to relay here is not just that this story had a happy ending, even if the sexuality educator mom rolled her eyes more than once. What I want to talk about is the importance of talking with your child, even if he or she has a developmental or intellectual disability. Perhaps even more so in that case. There are a few books available on this topic, should you need it. I keep a list of these on a resource page, as well as some other posts, which you may find useful, at www.teachingparentsteachingkids.info