By Cheryl Geniesse, a member of the SkillCorps Kenya October 2017 team
My adventure with the Global Autism Spectrum has been an incredible experience. In our second week at Kaizora, we provided a 2-hour workshop on autism and sexuality. More specifically, on physical maturation, sexual development and teaching strategies to address these topics.
Our main focus during this workshop was answering the “why.” For the staff at Kaizora, sex is commonly identified as a culturally distasteful topic to discuss, however it is a topic that needs to be explained to their students. Before we were able to dive into the details of sexual development, we spent some time addressing why it is so important to provide these students with the correct information and strategies in regard to sex.
For any child, it is critical to learn details of social relationships and the facts as they pertain to sex to reduce the risk of becoming victimized by others. This is especially important since we are commonly teaching our students with autism how to complete vocational and community skills, and as they become more independent and no longer needing the assistance of a caregiver, more risks may arise. These discussions about puberty should occur before they become adults rather than potentially waiting for situations or challenging behaviors to occur.
Near the beginning of the workshop, we noticed a lot of uncomfortable faces and some awkward silences. However, as we continued those faces began to fade and questions were being asked! We were ecstatic to open a dialogue on sexuality and to begin strategizing teaching tools that can be implemented for the students at Kaizora. The information provided in the workshop will now be referenced as the Kaizora staff continue to create and implement their own programs incorporating the values and culture of Kaizora and each individual family. I cannot wait to hear the amazing ideas that the Kaizora staff create next!