Sexual education for the mentally disabled

School Lunch - No Way This subject today has been heavy on my heart. What and how to teach a child with limited understanding about sexual education. What?! No I have not lost my sense. Your child is growing and physically maturing. This causes certain changes to happen whether the child understands them or not.

I watched a TV show once where a young adult with Down Syndrome became pregnant. She had limited intellect. She didn’t even know exactly how she got pregnant. I thought at the time how horrible! But that’s just one of those story lines used to create high drama and startled viewers. Sadly I was wrong. Disabled individuals especially children and women are abused at about double the rate of a normally functioning person.

So we know that we must address this issue but how? I would start with above all else be truthful! I realize talking with your child about sexual education is tough. Stay truthful but do not be afraid to stop and only give small bits of information. Little bits over a long time told truthfully and from mom and dad will go farther.

Use young child oriented books. The pictures will not be as blatant. The wording is simple and the books tend to be short. Instead of teaching the health function of each organ teach about private areas. Play act through if some one would touch you here… You say NO! and come to us. By keeping things honest and simple there is no cloak of shamefullness.  We want to leave it open that if there ever was a problem our child would come to us to talk about it.

Girls and boys are going to have physical changes with puberty. It is better to slowly be readying them for those changes than trying to explain as they happen. Teaching these health issues can be as simple as you make sure to talk to your child once a week for a few minutes. Over time the talk goes on and you will be there to answer any questions that crop up. Catching misinformation is as important as teaching the correct information.

There are also children that are unable to understand, even simply, or be able to talk to tell us. They may still have diapers that need changed so teaching about their private areas would make for confusion rather than help.  For these our most vunerable of the flock we must be vigilant for them.

Here are some tips that may help to protect our children from harm:

1. Don’t be afraid to use cameras to watch over your child when you are using a babysitter. I would tell the babysitter. They should have no problem if they are not doing any harm.

2.Recruit trusted family members to help you. If your child goes to a day camp or some form of outside the home care stop in at unexpected times or have a family member pop in to look. They don’t have to disrupt the event just a quick look to be sure everything is as it is supposed to be.

3. Be sure that ANY in-house help such as nursing care or hospice or any outside care is given a criminal check. I had a cyber friend who’s child used a at home aide, the agency didn’t get around to check her background, until after she had stolen hundreds of dollars of tech from them. DOUBLE CHECK!

4.Dress your child modestly. I understand you may have to deal with sensory issues that make dressing difficult. This is one area where you must draw the line.

Know that there are many more good people out there than bad. Taking precautions is the responsible thing to do.  Our lives are not easy but the blessings the Lord has graced us with are greater!

3 Responses to Sexual education for the mentally disabled
  1. Dawn (MommaKnows)
    September 29, 2009 | 9:33 pm

    Oh you’re addressing something that we have also had to consider. When and how and how much to tell, and all that goes along with it. Our 9yo (4th of 6 kids total) is delayed- and trusting of everyone. You have raised a good point, and a reminder to me that even a few minutes a week is a necessary precaution, and that private areas (“swimsuit areas” as one writer I saw stated) are off limits unless a doctor needs to examine them, with Mom & Dad’s consent. Sex ed doesn’t frighten me, and all of our older kids are well-informed age appropriately. It’s the protection issue that is scary for me. And he wants “When I grow up, and I’m a Daddy, I’m going to…” you name it, he’s planning on doing it. He’s going to work everywhere. His wife (he’s already picked her out… she’s 5 right now) “is going to have 5 babies!” Ah, yes. And we need to be more regular about our safety talks as well as our relationship talks. Thank you for the thoughful reminder!

  2. Susan
    February 8, 2010 | 7:22 am

    My daughter with Down’s is 14…we started a few yesrs ago teaching her not to hug (shake hands instead) anyone but mom dad & her brothers–no kissing except by us on the cheek. it is a hard lesson to teach and often we have to remind her. Noone has ever been offended when we reteach.

    my concerns at present are helping her deal with “internal” feeling– I have noticed some “self stimulation” behaviors (like wanting to rub against me when she hugs) that I have been redirecting her from. I am not sure how to help her deal with the “hormonal” side of her development. Doctors just suggest birth control–not a choice I am willing to make.
    any suggestions are appreciated.

  3. Alexis Usack
    March 2, 2010 | 12:26 am

    Extremely interesting post thank you for writing it I just added your website to my bookmarks and will be back :) By the way this is a little off topic but I really like your blogs layout.

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