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Sexual Education Resources

Sexual education for young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities is extremely important. Born This Way, a reality television show that stars seven diverse young adults with Down syndrome, is doing its part to highlight this.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, an average of 59,000 adults with disabilities are raped or sexually assaulted each year. Approximately half of all adults with cognitive disabilities will experience 10 or more sexually abusive incidents in their lifetime.

The upcoming episode of Born This Way on June 20, 2017 highlights the importance of sexual education as it relates to dating and marriage. The cast speaks with Terri Couwenhoven MS, CSE, a well known sex educator and author. Couwenhoven specializes in the design and implementation of sexuality programs and resources for people with cognitive disabilities, their parents and the professionals who support them.

In coordination with Couwenhoven, RespectAbility has released a lengthy guide featuring resources for sexual education for children, teenagers and adults with disabilities, with a focus on those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

General Sexuality Resources:

  • Sexuality & Disability: A Guide for Parents by the Arc of Spokane

    This guide for parents of children and adults with disabilities contains information on what parents need to know, such as the parent’s role, suggestions for what parents can do, information about the stages of social and sexual development in children and teens, tips and strategies for talking comfortably with your child about sexuality and resource lists and links to gather more information.

  • Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Terri Couwenhoven

    A comprehensive “how-to teach about sexuality” resource that offers practical information and teaching ideas for addressing a wide variety of sexuality issues across the life span. Includes loads of “use at home” activities that are useful for teaching about the body, privacy, social rules, relationships and exploitation prevention. Detailed and realistic drawings that can be used for teaching are included in the appendices.

    • Dating FAQs

      A Q&A with parents and Terri Couwenhoven on topics such as how to prepare your child for dating, how to help your teenager find people to date and how to help prevent your teenager from being hurt or exploited.

    • Teaching About Sexuality: What Works?

      An excerpt from Teaching Children with Down Syndrome About their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality: A Guide for Parents and Professionals.

  • Life Horizons I & II by Winifred Kempton

    This classic and comprehensive sexuality education series uses DVDs and teaching script. Part I focuses on the physiological and emotional aspects; it includes sections on parts of the body, sexual development, human reproduction, birth control and STDs. Part II emphasizes the moral, social and legal aspects of sexuality; it covers self esteem and relationships, dating skills and learning to love, marriage and other lifestyles, and parenting.

  • PossAbilities

    A curriculum designed to help students with disabilities understand and embrace their own sexuality by learning how to make and accept responsibility for making personal choices. A Teacher’s Manual, Student Manual and Power Point printout provide step-by-step guidance for examining relationship and self-esteem issues, including: self-image, emotions, values and attitudes; relationships, sexuality, health, safety and positive adult behavior.

  • Sexuality and Relationship Education for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Professional’s Guide to Understanding, Preventing Issues, Supporting Sexuality and Responding to Inappropriate Behaviours by Davida Hartman

    An excellent book for parents or professionals for understanding, preventing, supporting and responding to sexual issues that surface in childhood, preadolescence, adolescence and adulthood.

  • Sexuality and Severe Autism: A Practical Guide for Parents, Caregivers and Health Educators by Kate Reynolds

    This handbook helps the reader through the process of teaching about sexuality to people with more significant autism. The author shares ideas about when, what and how to begin the process of teaching and addresses both male and female puberty. Menstruation, public, private sexual behaviors, sexual abuse and reporting.

  • Sexuality Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities by Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New England and Green Mountain Self Advocates

    A unique curriculum designed to help people establish sexuality education groups and include self advocates as teachers. This comprehensive curriculum focuses mostly on relationships, both friendships and romantic relationships, and the skills and responsibilities needed within those relationships.

  • Special Education: Secondary Family Life and Sexual Health (FLASH) by Jane Stangle

    A teacher-friendly curriculum that provides student lessons on teaching relationships, public and private, communication, body changes, feelings, reproduction, STDs, birth control and exploitation prevention. Geared toward high school students with mild/moderate cognitive disabilities. Distributed by Family Planning Publications, Seattle-King County Department of Public Health.

Hygiene and Self Care

Masturbation

Puberty & Body Changes

  • A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up: Choices and Changes in the Tween Years by Terri Couwenhoven MS

    This book, designed specifically for girls with developmental disabilities of all kinds, shares information about physical and emotional changes that accompany puberty, menstruation and pad use, and exploitation prevention strategies. Text is written at a third grade reading levels and lots of pictures help comprehension for concrete learners.

  • Girl’s Guide to Growing Up

    This Marsh media teaching kit designed for students with mild to moderate disabilities includes teaching guide and packets of 10 student booklets. The instructional material is organized in chapter format, allowing for lesson breaks, instructional focus and revision. Topics include external anatomy, physical and emotional changes of puberty, health and hygiene and privacy and safety. Parent teaching materials are available for purchase separately.

  • A Girl’s Guide to Puberty & Personal Safety 

    This Marsh media video builds on the above video but also includes information about boy’s bodies, more detail on female anatomy and functions of sexual organs, a definition of sexual intercourse with an emphasis on privacy and maturity, societal behavior related to public & private, as well as safety information (touching, secrets and strangers). Teaching guides include pre- and post-test measures designed to focus on the important ideas from each chapter. Parent teaching materials are available for purchase separately.

  • A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up

    Another Marsh media video series designed for students with mild to moderate developmental disabilities. The teaching kit includes teaching guide and packets of 10 student booklets. The instructional material is organized in chapter format, allowing for lesson breaks, instructional focus and revision. Topics include external anatomy, physical and emotional changes of puberty, health and hygiene and privacy and safety.

  • A Boy’s Guide to Puberty & Personal Safety

    This video series builds on the above video but also includes information about girl’s bodies, more detail on male anatomy, functions of sexual organs, a definition of sexual intercourse with an emphasis on privacy and maturity. Societal behavior related to public & private, as well as safety information (touching, secrets and strangers) are included. Teaching guides include pre- and post-test measures designed to focus on the important ideas from each chapter. Parent teaching materials are available for purchase separately.

  • Changes in You by Peggy Siegel (James Stanfield Company)

    A visual teaching program for pre-adolescents with intellectual disabilities about the physical, emotional and social changes that accompany puberty. The program includes laminated drawings with optional teaching scripts on the back of each picture, teacher’s guide and male and female Changes in You books.

  • The Boy’s Guide to Growing Up: Choices & Changes During Puberty by Terri Couwenhoven

    This book is designed specifically for puberty-aged males with more moderate developmental disabilities (third grade reading level). Content includes information about body changes and handling sexual feelings. The book emphasizes social appropriateness with lots of pictures to help comprehension for concrete learners.

  • The Growing Up Guide for Boys: What Boys on the Autism Spectrum Need to Know! by Davida Hartman

    A compilation of social stories addressing a wide range of topics relevant to puberty.

  • The Growing Up Guide for Girls: What Girls on the Autism Spectrum Need to Know! by Davida Hartman

    A compilation of social stories addressing a wide range of topics relevant to puberty.

  • Video Self Modeling: Changing a Pad by Hands in Autism

    This web site link changes often. Google “changing a pad autism” and it usually appears. If your female student (or daughter) needs a quick review for changing a pad, find this link on the web.

  • http://www.visualaidsforlearning.com/free-packs.html 

    This site has free, downloadable visuals for teaching a wide range of topics including personal space, body changes during puberty.

Reproductive and Sexual Health

Boundaries in Relationships & Dating

Social Skills & Handling Feelings

  • A 5 is Against the Law! Social Boundaries: Straight Up! An Honest Guide for Teens and Young Adults by Kari Dunn Baron

    This resource uses scaling to classify behaviors from informal, social behavior to threatening, hurtful and illegal behavior. It aims to help teens and adults understand other’s perspectives and keep themselves safe. Simply laid out, contains good, visual exercises.

  • Promoting Social Success: A Curriculum for Children with Special Needs by Gary N. Siperstein and Emily Paige Rickards

    An excellent and comprehensive teaching curricula that includes detailed lesson plans for facilitating skill development in the areas of understanding feelings and actions, noticing and interpreting social cues, problem-solving in social situations and friendships.

  • The Incredible 5- Point Scale by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitze Curtis

    A unique system for teaching and supporting students on the spectrum in understanding social interactions and controlling their emotional responses.

Exploitation Prevention and Sexual Assault / Abuse

Do you know other people or organizations that should be included as a resource?

Contact our Communications Director at laurena@respectability.org.

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