Tag Archives: sex

Autism And Adolescence: Preparing For The Storm

1 Aug

I was educated in the 80’s at a girls-only Catholic school that was run by nuns. The school was high on academic excellence, and a high percentage of its graduates went on to achieve some pretty impressive things. At the same time, though, the school fell flat where it came to life skills training, and many of those people who wound up in noteworthy careers also struggled in various areas of their personal lives.

Throughout high school, I frequently found myself being summonsed to the principal’s office. The principal was a mean old nun named Sister Elizabeth, and she hated me simply because I was not a clone of my cousin, who she had taught at a different school several years previously. Every visit to her office was the same, regardless of what alleged infraction had sent me there. First, Sister Elizabeth would ask me why I couldn’t be like my cousin, and then she would put on a grave face and say, “Whether you throw a teaspoonful of mud or a bucketful of mud, you’re still throwing mud.”

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

I mean, I was the shy, socially awkward kid in my peer group. I wasn’t exactly a trouble-maker, and when I did hit a difficult patch in eleventh grade, my troubles were directed towards myself, and barely caused a ripple beyond my immediate group of peers. I was never caught smoking under the bleachers, I never swore at a teacher, and I never had a pack of condoms fall out of my pocket while running down the hall. Interestingly enough, the person who all of this did happen to was never, to my knowledge, sent to see the dreaded Sister Elizabeth.

What the school laughably called “sex education” happened in the form of a couple of talks given to us by outside counselors when I was somewhere around tenth grade. The talks had the following central theme: if you have sex before marriage, you will undoubtedly go through teen pregnancy and a life of poverty and deprivation, and your child will be a juvenile delinquent addicted to drugs, and when you die you will go to hell.

We were given some very basic information about the different forms of contraception, and then told not to use any of them on the grounds that they were a sin. The only acceptable forms of birth control, we were told, were abstinence and the Rhythm Method (which, of course, was reserved strictly for marriage, because of the whole going-to-hell thing associated with sex).

In retrospect, the timing and the subject matter of these sex education talks was kind of funny. By the time we had to listen to them, most of my peers had been sexually active for at least a year and probably knew more about contraception than the people delivering the talks. To my knowledge, there was only one teen pregnancy in my peer group, and it happened after we had all graduated high school.

Things today are very different. Kids are maturing physically at a younger age than my generation did, and for the most part, society seems to have let go of the notion that teens just shouldn’t have sex. There is an acceptance that they are going to do it anyway, so we may as well equip them with the tools and knowledge to do it safely. I am all for that, although I certainly wouldn’t want my boys to be experimenting with sex until they have reached  a certain level of emotional maturity.

The question that is plaguing me is this: how do I deal with this topic where my son with autism is concerned? He may only be turning eight in September, but time flies, and before we know it he will be entering the world of pre-adolescence. His physical maturation will far outpace his social development, and I worry about the time when he will have physical drives that he will not be emotionally equipped to deal with.

And so I have decided to start seeking out resources and advice on this topic now.

That way, when the storm of adolescence hits, I may have a fighting chance of helping my son navigate his way through it all.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alamosbasement/3661120171)

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Valentines Day Survival Tips For Men

15 Feb

I think I can honestly say that yesterday was the first Valentines Day in my adult life that I completely failed to care about. Sure, in the past I’ve always said the same stuff everyone else does. Valentines Day is over-rated and over-commercialized. Valentines Day is an excuse for Hallmark and flower shops to make a killing. People shouldn’t need a designated day to show their love for each other.

Blah blah blah.

See, even though all of that stuff is true, the fact is that I am a woman and a hopeless romantic. I’ve always cared about Valentines Day just a little – either because I was lonely and hated seeing all the couply crap surrounding me, or because I was in a relationship with someone who didn’t do anything special, or because I was in a relationship with someone I didn’t want to be in a relationship with, or – well, you get the picture.

I have had some nice Valentines Days. The best ones were in the early years of my relationship with Gerard, when he was still trying to get the girl. Now that he’s got the girl, he has stated his views on Valentines Day, which are pretty much a repeat of the above.

To his credit, though, Gerard does romantic stuff for me on non-Valentines Days. I get lovely little surprises when I least expect it. Sometimes, I even get lovely amazingly big surprises when I least expect it (when you click on the link, go to about 4:00 on the video and watch from there).

This year I didn’t care about Valentines Day simply because I had other stuff on my mind. Stuff like the entire family just recovering from a vicious bug that put my youngest in hospital and took out half of his daycare for a week. I completely failed to register that Valentines Day was even happening until I opened my Facebook page yesterday morning.

Next year I’ll probably care again. It will be my first Valentines Day as a lawfully married woman. Surely I’ll be entitled to something.

Anyway, I wanted to offer something to all of the fellas out there who find themselves in the metaphorical dog-box today, having messed up Valentines Day yesterday. Here, based on my experiences as a romantically inclined woman (read: woman like most other women), are ten Valentines Day Survival Tips.

  1. The woman in your life will say all the same crap I do about Valentines Day, but she doesn’t mean it. She does care, and she would like some special recognition on the day.
  2. When you’re wishing her a Happy Valentines Day, tenderly say her name and gaze lovingly into her eyes.
  3. Those things you usually look at are not her eyes. You want to look about six inches north of there.
  4. When women say they do not expect anything for Valentines Day, they really do. You don’t have to spend lots of money (unless you’re dating Ivana Trump or Paris Hilton) – get her something thoughtful, like flowers.
  5. Nothing says “I love you” like voluntarily washing the dishes or doing some other household chore that the woman usually does (doing this will virtually guarantee great sex, especially if the woman is an overtaxed, overwhelmed Mom).
  6. Men who can cook a romantic dinner are irresistibly sexy. If you cannot cook, you have a year to learn.
  7. If you are having a romantic dinner at a restaurant, do not – I repeat, do NOT – start replying to emails on your BlackBerry while you’re supposed to talking to her.
  8. If you break rule #7 and she calls you on it, saying “I was just checking my Facebook” will not make it better.
  9. If she wants to spend time with you in the hot tub and she starts arranging tea-lights in the bathroom, saying “Candles are stupid” might ruin the mood.
  10. Valentines Day does not exist so you can have sex. It exists as a special day for you to express your love for the woman in your life. If you follow the previous nine steps, the sex will happen. Saying “Happy Valentines Day, let’s have a shag” might be counterproductive.