A Product of Disability Access: Empowering Tribal Members with Disabilities & Their Families
by Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
The second kind of mistake people with disabilities may make is failing to distinguish between friends and strangers. Hey, I like kissing my baby and she seems to like it, too. Maybe I'll kiss that baby sitting in the grocery cart. Why not?
We stand closer to our family and friends than we do to strangers. We are freer to hug them, kiss them, touch them. Ideas of social distance and appropriate touching may need to be specifically taught. This is often a particular problem for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
When your little boy who is six years old runs up to strangers to give them hugs and kisses, it is very cute. When he is twenty and does the same thing it gets him arrested for sexual battery.
When your little girl is four and she climbs into a strange man's lap and rubs his face you think it is sweet. When she does it at fourteen she ends up sexually molested.
These statements are not made to upset parents and other caregivers but rather to emphasize the importance of teaching about sexuality.
In teaching about sexuality, parents of children with disabilities may be rightfully concerned about protecting their children. However, I personally have had sex, as evidenced by the baby above, and I can tell you that there is more to it about being charged with sexual battery or being sexually molested.
Start early. If you have never discussed sex with your child it is going to feel awfully awkward at age fourteen to start.
Answer questions as honestly as you can. If a child is old enough to ask a question, they are probably old enough to understand the answer. All of my children, when they asked where babies come from, I would say, "From the mother's tummy." Usually, at least a year would pass until they came back and asked, "But how did they get into the mommy's tummy?"
Use accurate words. The word "vagina" isn't any dirtier than the word "pancreas". It is a part of your body that you would be unhappy to be without.
For an article on teaching about sexuality to people with special needs, click here.
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