When your ASD preteen is beginning to ask questions about s e x ...

"My son [12 y.o. with ASD] has been asking questions about sex. He has a rather warped notion regarding how to interact with girls. I want to teach him about appropriate sexual behavior – but how? He takes things SO literally!"


Everyone wants to be loved. Kids seek love from their parents, and eventually they will seek love from their peers. Kids with ASD (high-functioning autism) want to feel love and affection just like everyone else, but they are hampered by their inability to form solid relationships. 

Building a strong parent-child bond early in life will help teach your ASD youngster about relationships, love and the closeness necessary to form intimate bonds. There will be more work to do later, as you’re realizing now.

Sexuality should be openly discussed at the appropriate level at all ages. Once your youngster hits puberty, it’s time to talk about sexual behavior. Talk, talk and talk some more. Having a clear path of communication with your son will enable you to have conversations about important life lessons. Make sure you respect his needs for adjusted communication given his developmental disorder.

Talking while walking for example, or while driving through town, will give him a chance to voice his thoughts without having to maintain eye contact. Plus, he may be more willing to open up about his true thoughts and feelings when he knows you are not focusing solely on him.

Young people on the autism spectrum like to have the facts. No cutesy stories, no made-up names, and definitely no personal details. Stick to clear, concise facts using proper terminology. Have him make a list of the facts. In addition, have him make a list of do’s and don’ts in relation to sexual behavior. This will appeal to his need for order/structure. 

Here are some suggestions to start a list of do’s and don’ts:
  • I should not touch a person’s face, hair, or body without permission. 
  • I should not touch my own body in public. Touching myself is private. 
  • I should stand a foot away from another person. People need their space.

Your preteen is going through major physical and emotional changes. He may find it difficult to cope with these changes and how they relate to all areas of life. His body and hygiene, friendships and dating, maturity and behavior will all be affected by becoming an adult. With your guidance, he can make these changes and approach adulthood well educated on the subject of sexuality and proper sexual behavior.


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

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