When I was young and my baby sister was on the way, an aunt of mine took it upon herself to educate me about how my sister came to be. She did this by handing me a book, “Where did I Come From?” by Peter Mayle. That book lives in infamy in my family. I still don’t know if my mother had any idea my aunt was giving it to me. And I’m not asking. All I know is when my sisters were old enough they got it handed to them, too.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? At some point our kids will learn about how they came to be and we may or may not have a say in how that happens. If we wait too long, by the time we get around to the conversation, they may already know more than enough, right?
For many, many parents, telling your own child how they came to exist it a bit uncomfortable. In fact, for some it is so unwelcome, they leave it to the school (or the kids on the school bus) to do the teaching for them!
But there are other reasons parents may not rush to educate about the “birds and the bees” (why this phrase came about is beyond this writer). Some believe they are justified in ignoring the conversation altogether. Unfortunately, some feel that if you are anywhere on the Autism Spectrum, or if you have another “special need”, this topic just isn’t applicable. Some of these parents feel they got a coveted “get out of giving the sex talk” card.
Let me tell you something.
If you think these kids won’t ever be curious about this subject, you are wrong.
People with Asperger’s, Down’s Syndrome and more are (wait for it… wait for it…) human.
This means at some point in their adult lives they may have a special someone they love and want to do the down and dirty with them.
And if you are a parent and are putting that talk off, think again. Choose to think of your child as someone who may have desires just as you did (or still do, ahem). You owe it to them to talk to about that side of romance. Sure, this may never materialize, but wouldn’t you rather they learn it from you instead of online? Honestly, as awkward as this all can be, I’m certain they’d rather hear it from you. (Even if they say otherwise in the moment.)
In our case, we did the talk. The scariest parenting talk of all – we told my Aspergirl about how kids come into being. Well, mom here did. We did the gender thing. We have a daughter so mom did the teaching. Fun times. Was it awkward? Sure! But I know my kid preferred hearing it from mom because she told me years later.
Now, I’m not going to give specific suggestions for your situation, but I do want to provide a few things to keep in mind when you take a big breath and have that sit down conversation.
- No matter how much you may doubt your kid may ever be in a romantic relationship, push those thoughts off the cliff and have the conversation when the time is right.
- Your young adult may be ready to handle this content well before you think they are ready for it. When in doubt, talk to a counselor or your kid’s physician for advice as to timing and content.
- When talking with someone with Sensory Processing Disorder, be very clear how the physical aspects of romance are a very sensory experience. Someone who has trouble with touch needs to know this right off the bat.
- Teach your young adult to set boundaries. Teach them how to look for signals the other person is giving. These signals include when someone is coming on too strong, but it also includes teaching them not to come on too strong, too.
- Saying “no” to romance is always an option. Always. Period. End of story. If getting physical is not right for them, it’s not right at all. On the flip side, they also must hear and respect when their partner says “no,” too.
- Understand current contraceptive measures, as in what’s considered safe today, not last year. And, yes, do the talk about STDs.
- Accept your young adult may have zero interest in a romance that’s physical. Just because you have the talk it doesn’t mean they are going to go out there and search for a partner. And if they have a partner, they may not have any interest in anything physical. That’s ok, too.
- One word: hygiene. (Not even going to broach this one, but you should have ideas where to start.)
Was this generic? Yep. That’s by design. Religious and cultural expectations and traditions will drive your own discussion as well as timing. But the end result it the same: it’s up to you to teach your kids about how they came into this world. Don’t pretend they’ll never be interested in it.
There are books that address this topic for those on the Autism Spectrum. Head over to my publisher, Future Horizons (fhautism.com) for a start.
Last tip: don’t stress over it. You’ve got this! It may not be fun, but it may not be all that bad, either!
If you have tips on talking to your kids about this sensitive topic, comment below. Please note comments are moderated. Due to the sensitive nature of this subject, keep your word choice at a “PG” rating. If you have Asperger’s, feel free to say so in the comments as your perspective has the most weight!