The subject of masturbation is one that people often feel uncomfortable talking about, yet it is a topic I receive many questions about. Some people believe that if a person is autistic, has intellectual or physical disabilities, they won’t have sexual urges. This simply isn’t true! Masturbation is a normal part of healthy sexuality. One thing to keep in mind…
People who feel significant gender distress because their gender identity differs from their birth sex have higher than expected rates of autism. This is a growing topic of study and discussion as our acceptance for those with gender dysphoria grows. What is gender dysphoria? Gender dysphoria (GD), also known as gender identity disorder (GID) is the condition of distress (or…
I am frequently asked the question about how to introduce the topic of menstruation to girls on the autism spectrum. Mothers worry about how their daughters will react to the event. Will there be sensory issues around blood flow and the use of sanitary pads? How will they feel about this change in their body? Will it be painful? How do you teach hygiene around menstruation? Will menstruation be understood and accepted?
No parent ever wants to think that their child may be harmed or abused, but it can happen. We can’t always be present, supervising at all times. Children go to school, visit other people’s homes, take the bus, work, and interact with others. People with developmental disabilities are more at risk for abuse than the general population. People on the autism spectrum often have a strong desire to be socially accepted and have difficulty reading emotions and social situations, and therefore may miss important cues that something is not right. This post looks at the newest research and programs that can help us keep our kids safe from harm.
I attended a presentation last week on practical approaches to teaching sexuality and want to share what I’ve learned. Teaching sexuality is often a daunting task whether you are a parent or professional. When it comes to ASDs, there is a two-fold problem: physical development is often typical while cognitive and social-emotional development are delayed and some sexual behaviours may be rooted in other causes such as sensory issues, rigid patterns of behavior, or the enjoyment of negative attention. You have to be a detective and investigate the reasons why sexual behavior is being exhibited; the cause may not be what it appears to be. For example, excessive touching of the genitals may be because pants are fitting too tightly and the touching may not be pleasure seeking related at all.
Analyze behavior and plan interventions to reduce inappropriate behavior. Ask the question, “What are they trying to get out of this?” You can teach and model something more appropriate, offering suggestions on what you can do instead.
I attended an interesting poster session last week at the Canadian Association for Occupational Therapists conference in Saskatoon, SK. The title of the session was Parental Perspectives in Sexual Health Education of Physically Disabled Children. Although it pertained to physical disabilities, the information was applicable to intellectual disabilities as well.