Autistic children are much more likely to be victims of sexual assault. According to recent data “People with intellectual disabilities are the victims of sexual assault at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities”.
This is the very reason why we need to teach children in the spectrum how to protect themselves. We understand that this can be a conversation hard to navigate so today we want to share a few tips on helping your child understand consent.
Explaining Consent To ASD Children
The first step towards preventing sexual assault in children is explaining to children what consent is. Explain your children that consent is “asking for permission”, and try to put it into practice in the following situations:
Ask for consent in everyday interactions with your child.
- “Do you want a hug goodbye today? We could also wave or high five.”
- “Can I sit beside you while we read this book?”
- “Can I tell your teacher that your grandma died?”
- “It’s OK if you don’t want a goodnight hug.”
Model that asking for consent is an ongoing process.
- “Do you need a break from tickling, or are tickles still okay with you?”
Teach your child to ask for consent with other children.
- “Do you want to play with the red or the blue car?” OR “Do you want to hold hands when we walk to lunch?”
Helping Autistic Children Understand Boundaries
Boundaries are a person’s right to choose what is comfortable for them. Teach your child to set limits on when and how their bodies are touched and by whom.
Teach Your Child
- Your body belongs to you
- You get to decide about your own body
- No one should touch you without permission
- Consent means always choosing to respect others’ boundaries
Additional Tips on Helping Autistic Children Understand Consent
We understand that this is never an easy subject, however, here are just a few ways you can begin an ongoing dialogue about this challenging subject with your child:
The Power of No: Teach your children that no is a powerful word that must be respected immediately. Also, teach them that if a person doesn’t respect that word, it is okay to not be friends with that person anymore.
Asking For Permission: Encourage your children to always ask for permission before showing affection to others. For example – “Let’s ask your sister if she wants a hug right now!”. In addition, never force your child to receive affection from family members if he/she is not feeling like it. This will reinforce the power of consent for both giving and receiving affection.
Say Penis and Vagina: Using anatomically correct names for body parts is crucial. Avoid replacing body part names with words like “cookie” or “weenie”.
Gut Feelings: Explain to your children that sometimes we sense that a person or situation isn’t right, even if we can’t really say why. Teach them that these feelings must be honored and that he/she is not supposed to be around anybody he/she doesn’t like.
No Secrets: Tell your children that secrets are never a good thing and that if anybody asks him/her to keep a secret he/she should immediately tell mommy and daddie.
Remember, is it never too early to start teaching your children about consent. At WSCC, we believe that parents can start educating children about consent and empowerment as early as 1 year old and continuing into their teenage years.
At World Stem Cells Clinic, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation, and improving brain function. We also created an autistic community on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!