Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 20

AUTISM HEALTH Awkward and Awesome Sex Talks with Your Child with Autism By Stacy BERNAL I plopped down onto one of the padded bar- stools at my kitchen counter. There was a sticky milk ring from the morning’s breakfast that I ap- parently hadn’t wiped clean in my rush to get the boys out the door. I sighed as I looked at the pile of gloves, school assignments, and other random papers that had accumulated over the week. I told myself I’d get to it later as I reached for the newspaper that was rolled up in front of me. I had had a busy day at work and was in desperate need of decompressing for a few minutes before I had to get on the laptop and wrap up my day—then cook dinner, do dishes, and help the boys with home- work. I was exhausted and still had a long to-do list ahead of me. I mindlessly skimmed over the front page, then opened to the second page, and was dis- gusted by the four major headlines that I read: Mistrial declared in child rape case. Despicable. Man accused of molesting 7-year-old boy, formally charged with 15 felonies. What a freaking sicko. Residents plead guilty to human trafficking. Oh. My. God. Man formally charged with child kidnapping, sexual abuse. What is the world coming to? I was just about to close the depressing pages to- gether as if shutting the paper would shut off the evil when one tiny word from the last article at the bottom of the page caught my attention: autistic. An uncomfortable warmth prickled up my neck, and I quickly scanned the rest of the article. “Oh no,” I thought. “Please don’t let it be a child with autism who was kidnapped and sexually abused.” As a mother to a 12-year-old son with autism spec- trum disorder (ASD), this was one of my worst fears. Just this summer, he and I had a somewhat comical conversation about inappropriate touching. We talk- 20 | Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 ed about how our genitals, our “private parts,” were off limits for grownups to touch. If anyone ever tried to touch his privates he needed to tell the person no, even if it was an adult. It was not okay, and he was to immediately let me know if it ever happened. We were in the car, running errands. I casually start- ed the conversation and then snuck glances at him in the rearview mirror to gauge his reaction. I could tell the gears in his head were turning. “What about doctors?” he inquired. “Your doctor may check you, but Mom or Dad should be in the room with you.”