I think sex education is one of the scariest things for us parents of people who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Like all parents, many of us probably have apprehension about our kids growing up, point blank. But then when you add intellectual and/or developmental disability on to that, AND the scary statistics of sexual abuse and intellectual/developmental disabilities, and it’s even scarier. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to bury their head in the sand – that’s my preferred place, too!
But our heads in the sand won’t keep our kids safe; knowledge and education will.
Let’s learn what we need to be aware of, how to talk to our kids about sexuality, and learn where to turn to for more education and training.
In This Post You Will Find:
Online Virtual Course on Sexuality Education
I interviewed Katherine McLaughlin of Elevatus Training after I found them online. I was impressed by the quality of work that she does, her disability “with-it-ness.”
The program that she has created is stellar, and it’s online now for us parents. She also courses for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and there are self-advocate run courses as well.
I cannot recommend these highly enough:
Talking with Your Kids: Sexuality and Developmental Disabilities. Katherine McLaughlin, 2017
All courses from Elevatus are linked here: www.elevatustraining.com
Books on Sex Ed and Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities
Books are always a great way to ease into conversations or normalize things, right? We do that a lot of over in my house. I like these books – most of which were recommended by Katherine McLaughlin – because they run the gamut from picture-book explaining to full text. They are disability appropriate and use simpler language (notice a couple from Dave Hinsgsburger, whom I featured quite a few years ago?!)
The Book List:
Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality. Terri Couwenhoven. Woodbine House. 2007
The Boy’s Guide to Growing Up: Choices and Changes During Puberty. Terri Couwenhoven. Woodbine House. 2012
The Girl’s Guide to Growing up: Choices and Changes During the Tween Years. Terri Couwenhoven. Woodbine House. 2012
Boyfriends and Girlfriends: A Guide to Dating for People with Disabilities, Terri Couwenhoven. Woodbine House. 2015
I Openers: Parents Ask Questions About Sexuality and Children with Developmental Disabilities. Dave Hingsburger. Family Support Institute Press. 1993
Sexuality: Your Sons and Daughters with Intellectual Disabilities. Karen Melberg Schwier and David Hingsburger.
Just Say Know: Understanding and Reducing the Risk of Sexual Victimization of People with Developmental Disabilities. Dave Hingsburger. Diverse city Press, Inc. 1995
It’s So Amazing. Robie Harris, Candlewick Press, 1999
It’s Perfectly Normal. Robie Harris, Candlewick press, 1994
Changing Bodies, Changing Lives. Ruth Bell, Three Rivers Press, 1998
Katherine McLaughlin gave me a few more websites but they have unfortunately fallen out of commission. It would be nice to have or know of more resources, so if you hear of any, would you please link in the comments? Thanks.
Sexuality Resource Center for Parents: www.srcp.org
Planned Parenthood: www.plannedparenthood.org
Advocates for Youth: www.advocatesforyouth.org
The only one in this section is really the only one we need: it’s the series that was produced by Rooted in Rights, by and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities about sex, sexuality and sex-safety.
It’s brilliant, gorgeously crafted – I love the colors! Check it out below:
Sex Ed Series by and for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities – combination multi-video and link resource and interview with the person whose brainchild it was
Articles & Resources
Plain Language Guide for Sexual Education: http://wfrec.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/9-30-19-NCIL-Sex-Ed-Easy-Read-Discussion-Guide.pdf
GULP! Newsletter: Talking with Your Young and Grown Children with I/DD
Articles, resource, free information on Elevatus Training:
Download These Resources
All of these are available to download in a free pdf, linked in the button below.
Helpful ResourcesDisability Related Resources
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.