People with disabilities can and do have sex. But because of myths perpetuated by an ableist society, many children with disabilities are being systematically left behind in receiving education regarding healthy sexuality.
Children with disabilities experience sexual abuse at rates greater than children without. This is primarily due to unique risk factors (e.g. isolated settings with caregivers and attendants) and the lack of systems providing sex and healthy relationship education, leaving no language or safe space for children with disabilities to talk about sexual abuse. All children have the right to be educated on their bodies, sex, unintended pregnancy and STD prevention, how to navigate healthy relationships, and what to do if someone violates their boundaries.
Some important ideas to consider when talking with children with disabilities about healthy sexuality:
- Use correct names for body parts. Everyone has a right to be informed correctly about their body.
- Every child is different and may require different levels of information. Follow the child’s lead and give developmentally appropriate information.
- Use various methods for learning. Some children may learn better with pictures, others through audible communication, etc. Be flexible and adapt the curriculum to the child’s needs.