Sexual Health and Disability – Resources for parents

Puberty is also a time when sexual attraction starts to occur, for all parents this can be an awkward time. As for all children, the best approach is to talk simply and honestly with your child about the feelings they may experience and try to be positive. Young people with a disability are just as likely to want relationships as any other person, it is important to recognise this and talk about it with your child.






Masturbation (touching or rubbing your own private parts for pleasure) is a normal and healthy part of sexual development for both girls and boys. Sometimes, for young people with a disability the young person may masturbate at inappropriate times or locations. It is important to teach your child the difference between behaviour in public and in private places. If your child starts to masturbate in a public place (anywhere where there are other people around) you should redirect them to a private place. For example you might say


“Those are your private parts, you can only touch your private parts in private spaces, like your bedroom or a bathroom with the doors shut”.


If you are worried about your child’s behaviours you should talk to your Paediatrician or GP about seeking further help.


Protective behaviours

Protective behaviours are behaviours that teach children personal safety, how to protect their body against unwanted touch from others. You can give your child tools to manage this by reinforcing that they have the right to say, sign or indicate whether they want others to touch their body or not and and teaching them simple concepts such private and public and saying “No” to unwanted touch.

It is also important to teach your child to respect other people’s bodies and their right to say “No”.

All children, regardless of disability or not should be given basic education on protective behaviours.


Additional resources – you may find these resources helpful

Shine SA – Sexual health and people living with a disability

Sexual health information resources – intellectual disability

Talking about sex and sexuality with young children

Sexuality and teenagers information sheet

Autism Spectrum Disorder and sexual relationships information sheet

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Puberty information sheet

Friendships and Dating booklet

Physical Disability and Sexuality



Related articles you may be interested in:

Puberty – Resources for parents of children with a developmental disability

Periods – Menstruation resources for parents of girls with a developmental disability

Talking about puberty, periods and sexual health and getting the help you need


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