Relationships and Sexuality
Children with FASD of all ages may exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviours.
Use clear and simple rules about sexuality, and repeat them over and over.
For younger children: “Ask permission before touching others”, “Everyone has to be an arm’s length away” and “Don’t talk to strangers”.
For older children and adolescents: “Unprotected sex is never safe” and “Masturbation is only done in private, in your bedroom, at home”.
- Children and adolescents with FASD may be sexually curious, but have difficulty interpreting social cues from peers.
- These children may have no fear of danger, stranger anxiety, and poor understanding of social boundaries.
- Younger children are highly tactile and may expose or explore their bodies at inappropriate times.
- Adolescents may engage in high-risk behaviour such as promiscuity, unsafe sex, and impulsiveness due to an inability to remember past mistakes and foresee future consequences such as pregnancy.
- Talk about it: Be open and willing to talk to older children and adolescents about puberty and healthy, safe sexuality. Teach sexual education repeatedly. Use the real names of body parts and sexual acts to avoid confusion. Teach your child healthy boundaries early.
- Role play: Teach how to hug and touch others respectfully, how to ask someone out on a date, or how to say no to sexual advances.
- Plan a ‘safe spot’: For children who run away, provide a safe spot they can run to, calm down, and come back when they’re ready.
- Supervise: Especially on outings and group activities, supervise your child of any age.
For a printable tip sheet of this information, click here.
We understand that people with developmental disabilities are often left out of conversations around relationships, sexual health and decision making. Additionally, those with developmental disabilities experience a significantly higher rate of sexual assault, unplanned pregnancies and STIs.
At SHORE Centre, we are committed to providing accurate, accessible information to all members of our community. After engaging in a community consultation process, we used participant feedback to inform the development of “SexAbility” – a Sexual Health Program for people with developmental disabilities consisting of weekly workshops.
We also recognize that parents, caregivers and support staff are essential to those they care for. We provide support and education to increase your knowledge and comfort in talking about and teaching sexual health.