Sex Ed for parents with Kids with Disabilities
Developmentally-appropriate sexuality education can help children and adolescents with disabilities stay healthy and safe. It can also help them feel good about themselves and their bodies. Additionally, it can help them develop intimate relationships and experience pleasure as they mature.
Unfortunately, many youth with disabilities do not receive information and guidance about sexuality. Parents may be reluctant to bring up the topic for a variety of reasons. Some may not know what to say. Some may fear that talking about sex will prompt youth to engage in problematic sexual behavior. Others stay silent because they believe that having a disability precludes opportunities for healthy relationships and sexual expression.
This silence around sex leaves youth vulnerable to abuse and harassment. It also leaves them without the knowledge and skills needed to successfully navigate social and sexual situations they encounter. This can take a toll on their physical and mental health. It can also lead to negative social consequences and even legal difficulties if their ignorance about sex contributes to problematic behavior.
This workshop will highlight how various physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities influence psychosexual development across the lifespan. It will also address common concerns about talking with youth about sexuality, disability, and relationships. Participants will learn strategies for tailoring sexuality education to a child’s or adolescent’s individual abilities and circumstances. They’ll also be encouraged to explore how they can advocate within their communities, so that youth with disabilities have better access to formal sexuality education.
About Kelly J. Ace, PhD, JD
Kelly Ace holds a master’s degree in Psychology and Counseling, a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, and a law degree. A Licensed Professional Counselor, AASECT-certified Sexuality Educator, and Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider, she has provided sexuality education and psychotherapy services to children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of intellectual, physical, and mental disabilities. She oversees the treatment, professional training, and abuse prevention education programs at Family Support Line, an NGO focusing on child sexual abuse prevention and treatment near Philadelphia, PA, USA. She offers training and consultation related to the intersection of mental health, sexuality, disability, and the law.