Teaching About Relationships and Sexuality

  • To ensure continuity and predictability, use a similar format of instruction as you have previously used to teach other skills (schedules, work systems etc).
  • Use a consistent approach at home and school
  • Put your own judgements, prejudices or issues aside- these may be meaningless to the teenager with autism
  • Before teaching social/sexual skills, the person’s individual preferences, strengths and communication skills should be assessed

When teaching a teenager with autism about relationships there are a few things to consider:

  • Reduce social demands by reducing eye contact
  • Take opportunities to talk about feelings as well as facts
  • Help young people understand that crushes are normal, temporary and okay so long as they are not pursued to the point of harassment or stalking
  • Do not rely on euphemisms, use correct terminology
  • Remember your sense of humour!
  • Use both proactive and reactive strategies
    • Proactive strategies educate young people about sex and relationships
    • Reactive strategies support them during instances of sexually inappropriate behaviour

Link to http://www.autism.org.uk/about/communication/sex-education.aspx
Link to http://www.bodyteen.com/dema.html (Male Development)
Link to http://www.bodyteen.com/defe.html#pu (Female Development)

It can be helpful to make up some ‘rules’ about relationships e.g.

  • Listening is the most important skill for friendship and romance
  • Good hygiene is probably the second most important skill
  • Close friends talk with each other about life experiences
  • Close friends can “agree to disagree”
  • The most important part of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” is “friend”
  • Showing interest in another person is important and can be a form of flirting
  • Being “too excited” can get in the way of friendship and romance
  • Never touch a friend unless he or she says it’s all right
  • If you feel uncomfortable about someone’s actions (or your own), tell a trusted adult
  • “Stop” means “Stop” and “No” means “No

Read previous: ← Recognising Feelings