There was a brilliant comic (with descriptions) on Medium recently – it’s linked here.
It’s written by Morgan Roe, an adult survivor of sexual abuse, and it’s about how she teaches her daughter that her daughter’s body is hers. The choices about who gets to see it or touch it are her daughter’s alone. She goes through the lessons consistently, methodically, constantly, to the point in which her daughter asks her why she is asking her the same questions. The mother responds, “because even if you give me permission once and then later change your mind, I have to listen.”
Now, I am a parent of a child with an intellectual disability, and I am a person with a disability. I am also a rape survivor and an adult survivor of child sexual abuse. Heavy stuff. Lots of heavy, scary stuff.
I have personally been so scared of these things – of my past, of my daughter being abused – that I hesitated in keeping her life when we found out via amniocentesis that she would be coming with Down syndrome.
But it doesn’t actually need to be so scary. It doesn’t need to paralyze.
I think the post by Morgan Roe is a fantastic example of what we need to be teaching our children, with and without disabilities. We need to teach them that their body is their own. Teach them that consent to touch or see must be given. That consent can change. That even if they need to see medical professionals on a regular basis, consent to examine them must be asked for and received.
Consent must be taught.
I think that especially with children who are medically fragile or who see doctors, therapists and others in the ‘disability industry’ frequently, we need to be extra vigilant about teaching our children about consent. Those of us who have children with intellectual disabilities have the additional challenge of striving to ensure that our children understand us, understand the questions that we are asking as well as the content.
I liked that the author seems to stress consistency. I think that is likely the key in working with my own daughter on teaching her consent, and her body being her own.
Thoughts? Opinions? Other good articles on this? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
photo credit: “Daughters Are ANGELS Sent From Above To Fill Our HEART With Unending LOVE” via photopin (license)