Sexuality and Disability: A guide for Parents

Posted in Blog, Curricula Reviews

Name: Sexuality and Disability: A guide for Parents

Source: Alberta Health Services

Audience and Focus: Parents or people with disabilities, tools to teach difficult sexuality topics to children

Best Tools: A guide to defining family values, section on child development, “quick and dirty” guide to talking about puberty

Summary:

 This guide is an adjunct to the sexuality education given in the Alberta Public schools, Health and Life Skills (for Grades K-9) and Career and Life Management (High School). It is created especially for parents to continue the conversation about sexuality at home, particularly in the arena of personal beliefs and values—which is a topic better addressed by parents and more familiar staff, as it varies greatly from person to person.

The guide clearly defines the role of parents in sexuality education—“to provide the guidance and knowledge their children need to become safe and happy adults.” It is further expanded to include giving accurate and factual information, honestly answering questions, beginning the conversation about sexuality, sharing family morals, helping make good decisions, and to be supportive of those decisions. (p. 3-4)

The thing that sets this guide apart from others aimed specifically at parents is that, while it is sensitive to differing values and offers an opportunity to discuss them, it provides information that is wholly unbiased. It addresses puberty, masturbation and STIs frankly for both boys and girls, and adds extra information that is specific to each, such as menstrual hygiene and wet dreams. Most importantly, this information is provided in a way that is neutral and doesn’t try to add fear or shame to sexuality.

The only thing I would change about this guide is the use of good and bad touch as a way to identify abusive behaviors. However, unlike many places that use that popular language, the guide goes on to explain that “bad” touches are hurtful, and emphasizes that it is neither ok to get nor to give a hurtful touch. It further delves into the explanation of sexual abuse as a type of hurtful touch using language that expresses differences in power and size and coercion. This section does involve a disclaimer that there are situations and times where the type of touch explained under the sexual hurtful touch may be necessary (e.g. changing a baby’s diaper or during a medical exam). What the section on hurtful sexual touch is missing is the recognition that sometimes hurtful touches physically feel good. Any acknowledgement of sexual abuse should also note that the body’s physical reactions sometimes operate separately from feelings.

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