Friday, December 2, 2011

Sex Education or Not?

I have already raised 2 boys through the 7th grade.  One is now 23, typical and thank God...out of my house.  The other is 16, with Aspergers. and in the 10th grade.  So you would think I have a few things figured out by now.  Both of these boys have been through Sex Education presentations without even a blip on the radar.  In fact, they probably enjoyed it immensely.  Red, the 16 year-old has loved girls since before he could talk.  My 23-year old became a lover of the ladies in middle school.  Fortunately, none of them loved him back until about the 2nd year of high school. I could write a whole book on his misadventures with girls...but I won't go there.

Well...each and every child is different.  Just like each person with Aspergers, although they may have similar traits ...Aspergers shows itself differently in each individual.  So every once in a while...these boys still stump me.  Blue has always said, "I'm never getting married. I don't want any kids. They cost too much money, and I never...ever want to have sex!" (I know...famous last words.)  

Coming out of 6th grade last year, there was a girl who caught his eye.  "She's really nice to me.  It's like she gets me," he says to me.  
"But I just want to be like her really good friend." 
This year...there is another girl, but he won't talk about it much.  Whatever the attraction's not too serious.  There have been no phone numbers e-mailing or texting.  Probably just the occasional glance and exchange of pleasantries. 

When the permission slip comes home for the 7th grade Sex Education presentation...he is quite adamant that he wants no parts of it.  I had exempted him from it last year.  This year, I forgot to sign the exemption.  His special education tracking teacher calls me yesterday and assures me that it is important from an educational stance.  She reminds me of how adamant he was that he could not deal with the biology, and human body sections of 7th grade Science, and so far he has done great with that.  
Another friend of ours had previewed the presentation for her boys who also have autism.  Dad and I agree to have him go ahead to the presentation with supports in place if he gets overwhelmed.  I later receive a phone call that he did fine.

When he comes home from school...he is livid! There is really no talking to or reasoning with him at this point. What does mommy do?  She takes him out for ice-cream.  Ice-cream makes everything least temporarily.  Later that night...when dad comes home, the emotions flair again.  There are tears of frustration.  
"Why? Why? Why? Why did you do it?  Why did you make me go? Why do I have to learn about this?  It was so disgusting!  I don't want to do any of that stuff!" 

We try to explain it from an educational point of view.  "You need to know these things so that when others give you false information...and inevitably they will, you will know the truth.  You will be able to help your friends if they come to you to talk about things like this."  He loves to educate his friends. . Of course we talk about STD's...the importance of knowing what is appropriate and what is inappropriate sexual behavior, etc. He isn't really buying any of our sales pitch.  

I take to my fabulous Facebook "Confessions" community  for advice, support and hopefully some answers.  Everyone there is very supportive.  My favorite answer however, comes from someone who is an Aspie herself and also a mother of children on the spectrum.  Inner-Aspie had this to say:

"As a 33 yo married aspie woman with 3 kids, and a healthy sex life who STILL to this day is absolutely mortified if I even think I'm going to see someone on TV naked, I'd say let him have a pass on the video, but most definitely not on the education. He can learn the facts with someone he trusts, and not in a crowded room with his peers. Please listen to your kids when they say something is uncomfortable. Just because it seems inconsequential and not a big deal to you doesn't mean it's not to us. The reason we can get so upset so easily is because we feel not listened to. I'm not trying to judge any of you(so please don't take my words wrong), but just trying to give you a glimpse into what it feels like to be on the other side. I actually preview movies before watching with my husband to be sure there won't be any sex scenes. The feelings of embarrassment, and shame of seeing these sorts of things in front of anyone else is very strong to me and not something I'd appreciate mocked by anyone. I get upset (what you might see as angry and irrational) when I feel my opinion and feelings aren't valued and it makes me feel less of a human when people make jokes about it, or dismiss me because they don't understand my opinion."

I am so thankful for this insight and for the blessing of the community on Facebook and Twitter that I have connected with.  I immediately share this with my husband.  Lightbulbs are going off inside our heads.  Blues feelings deserve validation.  We need to find a more creative way to facilitate his education on this subject here at home.  That's it. Done deal. 

This morning I write a note and hand deliver it to his Special Ed. tracking teacher.  Blue comes into the room where the 3 of us have a private conversation about the whole matter.  It turns out, that a big part of the issue for him is that he made the error of talking to a peer about his feelings.  

The peer asked him, "So are you freaked out about the Sex Talk?" Blue answers, "What if the teachers take their clothes off to demonstrate?"  Of course, the kid found this to be hilarious.  (Have to admit...I would have laughed too!) Unfortunately, this kid shared the sentiment with the young lady that Blue has a little crush on.  Yes...totally humiliating.  "I don't want her to have weird thoughts about me," he says to us.

After further discussion about the benefits of this knowledge, Blue decides that he will give it the college try this afternoon.  He will go...but he has the option to leave, if he gets too overwhelmed.  This was TOTALLY HIS DECISION.  I am really proud of him.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

That boy just amazes me.  I never knew I could love like this. 

P.S. You can find The Inner Aspie blog HERE.