Honing In On Intimacy:
Teaching I/DD Teens and their Caregivers to Learn
About Relationships, Safety, Puberty and Making Decisions
Our goal is to provide a holistic and well rounded base of exceptional caliber support for all of our clients. The Elevatus Curriculum is evidence and trauma informed approach to increasing accessibility of sex education for the I/DD population, and to give providers, caregivers, and teachers the ability to respond promptly and competently to sex/sexuality related questions or situations. This training was created by Katherine McLaughlin M.Ed, CSE with direct input from the I/DD community and self-advocates across the country. This curriculum was designed with a focus on self advocacy and is inclusive of all gender and sexual identities while respecting the values of the individuals/families receiving the training.
What does ATBS offer for parents, caregivers, teachers and providers on this topic?
Approximately once a quarter, “Honing in on Intimacy” is presented to the community. This service typically is offered for a nominal fee, however a sliding scale is available. Please reach out to us if this is case. This is an educational class for caregivers and parents focusing on issues of sexuality and intimacy for people in the I/DD community. The Elevatus Training increases accessibility of sex education for the I/DD population and to give providers, caregivers, and teachers the ability to respond promptly and competently to sex/sexuality related questions or situations. This training was created with direct input from the I/DD community and self-advocates across the country. This curriculum was designed with a focus on self advocacy and is inclusive of all gender and and sexual identities while respecting the values of all of the individuals/families receiving the training.
What does ATBS offer my child on this topic?
Theses classes are 1 hour in length and are based on the curriculum released by Elevatus, and individualized to the client in the class. Topics are shared before hand, so parents know what content will be covered. These classes will be scheduled and available at least once a year as a complete package or you can pick which classes you want your child to attend. The trainer will guide the discussion from the biological expectations of puberty, to the implicit and explicit social rules surrounding consent, dating, and varying degrees of relationships.
“My kid is too young for that. Why should I do it when they are so young?”
In the area of sex, sexual development, and sex education there is no defined “it starts now” age or moment. It is a gradual increase in interest/curiosity. Because of that gradual curiosity, it is common for kids to learn about sex from peers, the internet, or from popular media. The problem with kids learning from these sources is that often the information is misrepresented, the context is inappropriate, and/or the terms being learned only partially answer the question. This incomplete, naturalistic learning often leads to parents presenting sex education as a response rather than as preparation. By taking advantage of a preemptive, comprehensive sex education, you not only give your child the tools to respond to complex situations, you also open avenues to happy, healthy, and safe avenues for affection, intimacy, and deeper connection with others.
“My child is not interested in any of that. Why does it matter?”
You may have never seen anything that indicates their interest for intimacy. You may have even been told by your child that they are not interested. But research has shown that regardless of disability, regardless of sexual orientation, and regardless of personal background, all children will go through some form of sexual development. During this sexual development it is crucial not only to give them the information that opens avenues for deeper relationships, but to also preemptively prepare your child to appropriately respond to situations that may be potentially harmful. So much of this education goes beyond the anatomy and behavioral breakdown of sex; in this training we reinforce the concepts of consent, bodily autonomy, private vs. public, and how to recognize and maintain deeper friendships.
“I feel like talking about it means that I am giving permission”
Talking about sex and sexuality may open the door for more conversation or curiosity around the topic; but by being open and educated in your response, you can give your child the ability to be competent in their response to situations that may be dangerous, may be teaching lessons that do not align with your values or, conversely, may hold potential for deep and lasting relationships.