Sexuality education for students with special needs: dating and appropriate behavior


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was inspired by an webinar entitled Sexuality Education for Students with Autism, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, given by Ruth M. Eyres, NBCT, Easter Seals Outreach, Special Education Consultant. It was sponsored by STAR Autism Support and vizZle.

Just like everyone else, people with special needs long to have satisfying companionship. Many would like to marry and have families. And regardless of other developmental delays, their bodies generally mature at a normal rate.

Issues arise when students don’t have a normal sense of modesty, often because they are helped with personal care. They may not know that it’s wrong to touch their private parts in public. The hugs they freely gave when young may no longer be appropriate. It’s important for them to know how to ask someone out and how to accept rejection. And students with disabilities can be targets for sexual abuse. So teaching about sexuality is important.

However, this seems challenging. Parents and teachers are often not sure what to teach or how to teach it. There are several resources which can help.

There are guidelines for content. SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, published Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education on their website ( Another resource is National Sexuality Education Standards, Core Content and Skills K-12, which provides content guidelines with an evidence-based approach.

There are also many resources which provide instruction. EdWeb webinar presenter Ruth M. Eyres suggests getting parent buy-in and permission before using them, and there are sample permission forms in the first resource in this list. The entire list of resources can be found at



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