Smashing sexual taboos

A MOTHER of a child with autism spectrum disorder has described a workshop on healthy sexuality as invaluable to help care for her daughter.

North Bundaberg mum Agnes Ashley was one of 12 people to attend the workshop with Canadian clinical psychologist Isabelle Henault at the Brothers Sports Club yesterday and Tuesday.

“I've found it very informative and I thought it was great for me because my daughter is eight, so I know what to expect,” Ms Ashley said.

The mother said the workshop also offered her important tips on how to deal with her daughter's sexuality as she approached puberty.

“There is a lack of information and resources in Bundaberg, especially to deal with this kind of issue, as it is often said to be taboo,” she said.

Ms Ashley said as well as the facts, the workshop also provided her with practical ways to teach her daughter what was acceptable and what was not.

Chiropractor and acupuncturist Lucia Bekker, who travelled from Tannum Sands for the workshop, said the information provided would help her deal with her patients who had autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“It taught how to deal with what is considered strange and inappropriate behaviour,” she said.

“You have to be careful what you say because people with ASD are often very literal and what you say may cause more harm.”

Dr Henault said it was incredibly important that carers and parents knew how to deal with sexuality in children with ASD.

“People with ASD are often quite naive,” she said.

“Knowing about their sexuality can often prevent things like sexual abuse.”

Dr Henault said sexuality was not often spoken about with ASD teens.

“It can also be lack of knowledge or what I call overprotection, where the parent is in denial that their child has entered puberty,” she said.

“We propose a more positive theory of the mind and being more open about the topic.”

Dr Henault said education on sexuality would also help people with ASD interact socially and in relationships.

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