Puberty, sexuality and safety for young adults with ASC’s
Puberty, Sexuality and Safety are topics that are often difficult for parents to broach with their children. It is especially important that the correct information is given in the correct way (and at the correct time) when the young person has an autism spectrum condition.
It is important to be open about bodies and how they can appear to be physically different. This can begin at a very young age by simply teaching the names of body parts.
As children grow, teach them the underwear rule, talk about the difference between ‘secrets’ and ‘surprises’ and what privacy means.
Factual information will help a great deal once puberty is underway.
There are a great series of books from JK Publishers by Kate E Reynolds that will help with the correct information
‘What’s Happening to Tom?’ talks about puberty for boys and young men with autism and related conditions.
‘Tom Needs to Go‘ is a book about how to use public toilets safely and
‘Things Tom Likes’ is a simple picture book to teach boys and young men with autism spectrum conditions about masturbation and when and where it is appropriate. It also helps to introduce the concepts of public and private and to establish ground rules.
There is a similar series for girls, centered around a character called Ellie, that is due to be published in January 2015.
Links for those books can be found here.
For children with severe autism, this book is recommended: Sexuality and severe autism
This is a great article written by SEN magazine about Sex and Relationship Education in young people with special needs.
For older children and adults on the spectrum who want to learn more about sexuality for people on the spectrum, I can highly recommend Dr Wenn Lawson’s book Sex, Sexuality and the Autistic Spectrum.
Written by an ‘insider’, an openly gay autistic adult, Wenn (formerly Wendy) draws upon his own experience to examine the implications of being autistic on relationships, sex and sexuality. Discussing subjects such as basic sex education and autism, he then explores interpersonal relationships, same sex attraction, bisexuality and transgender issues. He also examines the unspoken rules that exist between people in relationships and explains why these rules can be difficult and confusing for people with autism.
The subject of sex and sexuality on the spectrum is perhaps a difficult one, but it is too important to be ignored.
What are your thoughts?