How to Teach Sexuality to an Autistic Child

How to Teach Sexuality to an Autistic Child

Having a conversation with your autistic child about sexuality can be challenging.

Your child's cognitive development may mean that they need more time to grasp certain ideas.

In terms of sexuality and sex, they may have difficulty grasping what constitutes "acceptable" behavior.

Not to worry, with the proper support for autism, you can teach sexuality to an autistic child.

Here are simple steps that should help you teach sexuality to an autistic child.

Personalized instruction on how to best take care of the human body is crucial in any comprehensive sexuality education.

Children with ASD may not know the names of their body parts or what they do because of language difficulties.

It is critical to teach ASD youngsters the subtle principles of sexuality.

Specific social standards governing specific behaviors must be explicitly taught (e.g., where and when it is appropriate to undress).

Read on for advice on how to teach sexuality to an autistic child.

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Melissa Johnston, LPC

Melissa Johnston, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Alex Wiley, LPC

Alex Wiley, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Shannon Hamm, LPC, CCTP

Shannon Hamm, LPC, CCTP

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Holly Bradbury, LPC

Holly Bradbury, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Jessica Gutierrez-Gaytan, SWC

Jessica Gutierrez-Gaytan, SWC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Clarissa Mendez, LSW

Clarissa Mendez, LSW

Colorado
(720) 449-4121

Start Early 

In the first place, it's never too early to talk about sexuality.

Kids on the spectrum could need more time than typically developing kids to adjust to puberty.

Changes in their bodies that they can't prevent can be frightening, so it's good to have these conversations before they actually happen.

It is best to start by teaching them about gender differences.

Once it is determined that your child requires sexuality training, it is critical to examine what topics you will be discussing and how this information should be presented.

Use your discretion and assessment of their needs to determine the topics and timing of conversations depending on your kids' social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development.

"Planning ahead" is another reason why starting to teach sexuality to an autistic child is important.

This means that while it may be fine for a toddler to go around the house without clothes, keep in mind that such behavior will be unacceptable as the child becomes older.

If autistic children aren't taught about sexuality from a young age, they may come to consider such conduct as normal.

Teach Them Body Awareness 

Knowing one's body is the first step toward developing both awareness of oneself and the ability to make your own decisions.

Understanding one's own private and public conduct is aided by body awareness.

Autistic children should be informed about their body's functions.

For instance, use everyday moments.

Introduce bodily parts to your child when they are taking a bath or getting dressed.

It can be easier for autistic children to learn about their genitalia if they have a general understanding of their bodies.

It's advisable to introduce your child to the concept that genitalia are also physical parts of the body when you introduce the names of other body parts, such as the fingers and toes.

It is also important to teach them the importance of regular checkups by themselves and doctors as appropriate throughout their lives. 

Use Proper Language for Instructional Situations 

Discover your kid's level of knowledge.

You can accomplish this by pointing to and naming the various components of a picture or even your own body.

Keep track of what your child doesn't understand so you can begin teaching from there.

Avoid using cutesy terms like "willy" and "wee-wee" in favor of more appropriate alternatives.

Don't be afraid to refer to your body in words accepted by science (breasts, penis, etc.).

Your child may hear terms for private body parts on the playground that are different from the ones you're using, so you may want to clarify that there are different names for these parts.

An open discourse begins with your initial reaction to the person's queries and statements.

Try to use language in a way that allows them to communicate with you whenever they have questions.

Young children can benefit greatly from learning about their bodies.

It's a common myth that bringing up sex can trigger sexual desire; in fact, the opposite is true.

The experience of sexuality is integral to what it means to be human, regardless of one's physical or mental abilities.

Explain How to Do Things Properly 

Teaching autistic children the distinction between their private and public areas of the body is crucial.

This teaches kids the difference between public and private behavior.

You and your child can also develop a list of situations in which it is acceptable for either party to be undressed in public (such as while changing in the locker room).

It could be in the form of a written list or photographs of features like a locker room.

To teach your child about boundaries, you can use their knowledge of their body as a springboard.

Boundaries are restrictions and standards we set for ourselves and others regarding how they and we interact with one another in social situations.

Your child's personal boundaries should specify when and by whom others may contact his or her body.

You can also discuss the appropriateness of certain actions in public against those that should be kept private.

Teaching them to say things like "I need to remember to close the door when I use the restroom" are examples of such statements.

Use a Targeted Approach 

Rather than relying solely on conversations to teach sexuality to an autistic child, it may be preferable to take a more targeted approach when teaching sexuality.

It is possible to use tools like social storytelling, video modeling, social scripts, and visual signals.

Low-effort strategies include jotting down key information and keeping a calendar or diary to track menstrual cycles.

More involved strategies include role-playing how to say "no" and assert your rights and bodily autonomy when confronted with unwanted sexual advances or contact.

Pictures, drawings, diagrams, books, and videos are all great examples of visual educational tools that can supplement a discussion and aid in the development of shared knowledge.

It's crucial to show autistic children how their bodies develop and alter (muscle, hair, vagina, penis, etc.) at different stages of life when discussing puberty (e.g., at ages 8, 12, 15, and 18).

During those talks, have the child identify their age in the photographs. 

Conclusion

Children on the autism spectrum can be protected, empowered, and fully included in their communities if they are provided with appropriate sexuality education in a timely manner.

Remember to seek assistance.

You are not required to accomplish this alone.

There are several options for getting sex education support for autism.

You can teach sexuality to an autistic child by getting a head start, teaching body awareness, using proper language for instructional situations, explaining how to do things properly, and adopting various strategies and techniques.

Resources 

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May 18th, 2024

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