Sexual Education encompasses many aspects of life. It is needed by all human beings. As people grow, their needs for education about sexuality also grow. Sex education should be developmentally appropriate and continuous throughout the lifespan. The goals of sex education are to impart basic information, to teach skills necessary for sexual well being, and to encourage positive attitudes towards sexuality. But our society has been slow to acknowledge the need for sexuality education of the disabled.
Most of us have the beliefs that persons with disabilities are asexual and that individuals with disabilities will be unable to cope with their sexuality. But we must know that all people have the right to be fully informed sexual beings. In our country sex education was already integrated. So since sex education was already integrated here in Dumaguete, teaching it to students who are visually impaired is important.
First we must know what are the effects of vision impairment of the students in the development of society, must also know what are the strategies to be made in order for them to learn sex education and lastly what are the roles of the teachers and also the roles of parents in teaching this particular topic. Students with vision impairment have different effect in their societal development and why is it important to teach them. As what I have noticed, there where sex-role stereotyping for the teens who are visually impaired.
For the girls they faced the stigma of being blind and female while the boys must have compete with society’s stereotype of being strong, independent and dominant male. The other effect of vision impairment is the limited access of information and it becomes a greatest barrier of the students to develop their sexual understanding. This is what happened to my friend who is visually impaired she has the difficulty in understanding the concept of privacy because she do not know what are the things to say and what are the things that must not.
And the other thing is that her parents were afraid of telling her about information about sex, they just wait for her to ask question. So with the withheld of information from children there is the risk of sexual abuse and feelings of fear or guilt about sexual feeling they do not understand. The other effect is the personal safety of the child. Because it is common for sighted persons to perceive those who are visually impaired as helpless, which increase the tendency of exposure to sexual harassment, molestation, and abuse.
So it is important that children who are visually impaired understand what constitutes sexual abuse in order to protect them. In teaching sex education, teachers must have first the different strategies in order for him or her to be successful in teaching the said course. One of the teachers of visually impaired students shared to me some of the possible strategies. She said that first is to plan in what are the things to be needed and a teacher must find the questions when, where, how, and by whom before teaching. She also suggests by using tactile models in teaching but students must be approached with care and sensitivity.
Large diagram can also be used but most especially teachers should have obtained extra information about the topic. Like all children, students with developmental disabilities grow into adolescence with physically maturing bodies and a host of emerging social and sexual feelings and needs. Before these changes begin and throughout adolescence, it is vital that educators and parents provide information in a constructive way that is both clear and developmentally appropriate. Both the teacher and parents have different role in teaching sex education to their students or child who are visually impaired.
One of the more difficult aspects of providing sexuality education for this student is that of learning styles. Most of these students must be taught using real objects in real-life situations. Books, videotapes, rubber models, anatomically correct figures, and so forth may have no meaning for them. Additionally, the child may be a tactual learner. It may be uncomfortable for the teacher to present a tactually adapted lesson, and/or they may not know how to make the appropriate adaptations for the tactual learner.
As Maurice Belote with the California Deaf blind Project shared: “Instruction may require the use of concrete materials and instruction. This is one of the most difficult aspects of sex education for some students who are deaf-blind. It is not always possible to “talk around” a subject, or use abstract descriptions to provide instruction. For some students, instruction must be made very real. Clearly, most educational systems in most cultures do not allow the use of real people to teach issues of sexuality”.
Classroom Teachers should first be aware that the student who is blind or visually impaired is more like, than unlike, the other students in the class. The student who is blind or visually impaired is subject to the same rules and regulations as other students and, in general, to the same requirements. Accommodations adaptations should begin with the least complex and move to the more complex as needed. In teaching sex education, teachers can be descriptive. I think the first thing a teacher need to do, is to tell them about what parts of the body are always covered and really start with that.
And explain. First of all, explain to students, that there’s a reason why these parts are always covered, and what those organs are, and give them proper names so they understand what they are, so that they understand the penis and the vagina are, you know, normal parts of the body just like the hands, the elbow, or the nose are parts of the body. One of the things I like to say is that it’s very important to teach the student who’s blind the same language that everybody else is using, because knowledge is power, and knowledge about one’s body means that you have control over one’s body.
And let them to know that, you know, this is what people are talking about. When they use these words, this is what they’re talking about. A teacher need to know both expressions, and need to know when to use the more clinical term and when to use the slang and, you know, talk about how people are affected by those words just so they’re on the same page as everybody else. And I think so much of special education really is about putting the students on the same page as everybody else, so teacher must start with language.
Parents have also played a big part in teaching education to visually impaired students. As what I have observe parents often feel some confusion about sexuality and disability with their deaf-blind child. They may think in some instances that their child’s sexual development will be delayed or that the child may not develop sexually because they are disabled. Many parents feel that they lack the information and skills have needed to provide sexual education and support to their child; however, as for me, parents are the experts about this. Because they were the one who guide the child since the beginning.
And, one of the things that I can suggest to the parents of children who are blind or visually impaired is the fact that they have to be very frank, that they have to be very direct, because children were not going to pick up that information incidentally. And that’s some of the stuff we talked about already– just explaining about the body parts, explaining how they work, explaining what they look like, explaining where they are exactly so that they understand the opposite sex and how it works. So parents have to be more explicit early on, and so it’s good to use.
You know when parents can use proper language and use the correct names and give examples when they can. Now we know the different needs and importance of teaching education to students who are visually impaired. Teaching this subject thoroughly and clearly to the visually impaired students may be the most challenging aspect for the teacher and parents. However, finding resources and materials with ideas on how to present and inform students about sex education and with the help of educators who are well trained in teaching this subject, and also with the help of parents in teaching their visually impaired child, would be easy.
Courtney from Study Moose
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