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Sexual Health for Special Adolescent

(SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS WITH DISABILITIES)

INTRODUCTION

All disabled people have the same biological means and needs. Persons with disabilities are living longer nowadays and are choosing to wed or become sexually involved. Teaching them sexual awareness from the young age can help them elude many pitfalls later and also for their personal safety.

It is commonly said that children with disabilities are asexual, meaning they have no sexual capabilities or urges. Such a myth is highly dangerous for these children with disabilities and they are more prone to sexual abuse as well as developing inappropriate sexual behaviour.

They don’t understand sexuality and abuse. Hence, they are less able to recognize or report abusive situations and can easily manipulated by others. They also might think that such behaviour or helping for their daily needs like bathing, dressing and mobility is appropriate. So, the children and adolescents with disabilities have a genuine need to learn about sexuality.

WHEN TO START/START YOUNG

It is never too early to start sex education especially towards children with disabilities. The answer is “as early as possible”. Make it age appropriate by starting with explanations on how to take care of their hygiene.

You can explain to them in simple language on why and what you do to clean them up after diaper-soaks or bowel movements and also during a bath or shower. Then, make them aware that others aren’t allowed to do the same unless these people are specifically given permission to do so. This is critical when there are other caregivers involved such as maids, siblings or nursery staff.

Discuss what makes them uncomfortable and inform your child it is okay to say “No” or “I don’t like you touching me like that” and empower them to do so.

FACT

This article hopefully can give understandings about sexuality and personal safety. Goals of comprehensive sexuality education are to:

  1. Provide information such as understanding the differences between sexuality and sex. Sex is a small part of sexuality.

  2. Develop values (family, religion, cultural values).

  3. Develop interpersonal skills.

  4. Develop responsibility for their bodies and actions.

  5. Know how and when to seek help.

Human sexuality encompasses:

  • Sexual knowledge

  • Beliefs, attitudes and values

  • Behavior. It deals with the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of sexual response system. Sex is the act and a small part of sexuality.

Tips for talking about sexuality:

  1. Break topics into smaller subtopics for easier understanding

  2. Start with basics (ask them what they know)

  3. Be concrete (use visual cues & give examples)

  4. Be repetitive and cumulative

  5. Modify for specific disabilities. Focus on individual not on disability

  6. Be clear, use both medical and simple terms but emphasis the need to use the correct medical term

  7. Comfortable with the topic, it is significant to convey positive message about sexuality to build self-esteem

  8. Ability to respond effectively to inappropriate behaviour, give a non-emotional response

  9. Be non-judgmental

  10. Understand dynamics of child sexual abuse

GUIDE AGE-APPROPRIATE SEXUAL EDUCATION

The contents should be taught in a few sessions. Parents or care providers must consistently “teach” using every available teaching moment. Our attitudes must relate to our culture, ethnicity, personality, upbringing, family values, religion and past experiences.  The outline of what have to be taught are as the followings:

3 – 9 years

10 – 15 years

16 years  and above

Body parts

Difference between boys and girls. Naming body parts including private body parts using proper terminology and its function

Life cycle changes
Understand the physical differences between male & female throughout the life cycle (a boy becomes a man and that a girl becomes a woman)

Your body is your responsibility

Public and private body parts
Recognise private body parts. Everybody has private parts.
“People should not see your private parts”
“People should not touch  your private parts”
“You should not see other people’s private parts”
“You should not touch other people’s private parts”

Puberty changes – physical, mental & emotional

Difference between sex & love

How babies are made in simple terms when opportunities arise

Details of how babies are made. Understand the concept of reproduction

Responsibilities of sexual relationships & parenting

Hygiene

Hygiene & Masturbation

Hygiene & Masturbation

Public & private

Safe & unsafe places

Safe & unsafe places

Behaviour, dressing & the way to look at people

 

Behaviour  – make adjustments when opportunity arise

Behaviour, dressing &  the way to look at people

 

Conversation – correct it when opportunities arise

Conversation – talk to people you trust

Conversation with trusted people

Feelings & emotions

Basic skills in socialisation & communication

Building and maintaining relationships with the same or the opposite gender

Building and maintaining relationships with the same or the opposite gender

Recognising and expressing emotions, making friends

The way to look at & talk to people

The way to look at & talk to people

Relationship & touch

Relationship boundaries

Relationship boundaries between the same or the opposite genders

Relationship boundaries between the same or the opposite genders

 

Recognising different types of touch

  • Distinction of appropriate and inappropriate touch

Recognising  different types of touch & saying “No” to inappropriate touch

Everyone has a place  & personal space

Recognising different types of touch & saying “No” to inappropriate touch

Everyone has a place  & personal space

 

Saying “No” to inappropriate touch

Laws & consequences of inappropriately touching others

Laws & consequences of inappropriately touching others

Safety plans :
NO , GO, TELL

Teach child about safety. Say “No” or Shout, Go & Tell

Teach child about safety. Say “No” or  Shout, Go & Tell

Teach child about safety. Say “No” or Shout, Go & Tell

NEVER keep a SECRET about  TOUCHING issues

 

Last Reviewed : 8 October 2014
Writer : Dr. Salimah bte. Othman
Translator : Dr. Salimah bte. Othman
Accreditor : Dr. Norharlina bte. Bahar