logo small
The Parent Buzz
A Newsletter for Parents from Let's Be Honest!
March 2007 - Vol 1, Issue 4
In This Issue
Sign Up
Quick Links

Welcome to The Parent Buzz, an e-newsletter designed especially for parents and caregivers of middle school-aged children by Let's Be Honest!, the Parent Education program of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Conversations about sexuality can yield many benefits when you talk with your developmentally disabled child. The positive effects for your child include not only an understanding of sexuality, but also opportunities to learn, grow, and build skills for life. These talks enable young people to understand behaviors that are inappropriate in public or that are destructive to relationships, trust, and self-esteem. They also allow young people to recognize and prevent abuse and exploitation. Remember to include the 4 Themes of Let’s Be Honest! in your ongoing conversations: Rights & Responsibilities; Values; Feelings & Self-Esteem; and Facts & Knowledge.

Young people who have developmental disabilities deserve accurate, age and developmentally appropriate sexual health information. This can sometimes be challenging for parents and young people if some learning channels are blocked or if commonly used teaching tools (such as diagrams and charts) are less than useful for children who learn in non-traditional ways. Nevertheless, the numerous benefits are worth the effort. Here are some tips and ideas for beginning your conversation:

  • Use pictures as often as you can. Photos of family or friends can be a springboard for talking about relationships and social interactions. These give important and immediate context to your discussions, which is key for these children who have success with concrete ideas.
  • Use repetition in providing small amounts of information over time. Check that your child understands by asking questions that put the information in a practical context. Use opportunities to repeat key ideas in other settings—for instance, while watching television programs that deal with relationships or sexuality issues.
  • Draw, copy, or buy a full body drawing or chart. This is a concrete way to show where body parts are and what they do.
  • For more involved tasks (such as personal hygiene related to menstruation), try to break down the activity into several steps. Frequently review the steps with your child and always provide feedback and praise. If you are unsure whether your steps are concrete and understandable, write them down and try following them yourself. Did you leave anything out? Using a pad or tampon during menstruation or cleaning beneath the foreskin of the penis may seem straightforward, but these activities require several separate steps in a particular order.
  • Repeat information often, and offer feedback and praise. Reinforce important concepts frequently.
  • Practice! Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to try out his/her skills.
  • Use existing resources. Visit the library and check out books, videos and websites about talking with your kids about sexuality.
  • Network with other parents. Share your insights and listen to theirs. Involve others by communicating with teachers, coaches, and caseworkers about the topics you are discussing. Share ways they can reinforce these lessons at school, work, or on the playing field.
  • Recognize and validate your child's feelings. This is a unique opportunity to get to know your child better.
  • Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know the answer to that question." But, be sure to follow up with, "Let's find out together!" Then do so.

There is no single approach that is always best. As a parent, you have the opportunity to investigate and experiment, to be creative, and to learn from your successes as well as your missteps!

By Lisa Maurer, MS, CFLE, ACSE, Consultant and Trainer: Reprinted with permission from Advocates for Youth
CARE for Youth Launches New Website!

The Coalition Advocating Responsible Education for Youth (CARE for Youth) has officially launched a brand new website, www.careforyouthma.org, to advocate for real health education in the Massachusetts public schools. Established in 2005, CARE for Youth’s goal is to keep kids safe and healthy by passing legislation to make comprehensive health education a reality for all Massachusetts public school students. Currently, the Coalition has over 100 member organizations, including PPLM that are committed to this important initiative. This new website will serve many different audiences such as parents, teens and educators. The website is an important resource for tracking the latest developments regarding the Health Education Bill, along with supporting facts, statistics and news stories. Parents who visit the site can “Take Action” in a variety of ways such as telling CARE for Youth what’s happening in their child's school, contacting their legislators, or writing a letter to the editor.
Acne is caused by glands in the skin that produce a natural oil called sebum. Puberty hormones make the glands produce extra sebum, which can clog the pores. Washing gently with water and mild soap can get rid of excess sebum and help reduce breakouts. In more severe cases of acne, there are several helpful over-the-counter and prescription medications available. Don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s doctor about recommending a dermatologist (a doctor specializing in skin).

Source: www.kidshealth.org
SIECUS, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, is an organization that was formed 40 years ago to promote sexuality education for people of all ages, protect sexual rights, and expand access to sexual health. Each year, SIECUS distributes hundreds of thousands of print and electronic resources to educators, advocates, parents, researchers, physicians, and others working to expand sexual health programs, policies, and understanding. A feature on their website is “Take A Minute to Talk About Sexuality With Your Kids” a radio series that can be downloaded for free through Real Player (instructions included on website.) Visit SIECUS at http://www.siecus.org/parent/radio/index.html and learn more about how and when to talk with your children of all ages about sexuality-related issues.
Get prepared for your kids’ questions about adolescence and sexual health with this interactive workshop. Register for a workshop on Wednesday, April 4 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in Springfield. Click here to register: http://www.pplm.net/training_calendar.cfm
Despite the fact that young people are filled with information about sex and sexuality from what they've learned on TV or the Internet, they're still interested in what Mom and Dad might have to say on the subject. Click on this link to hear a recent radio report by Youth Radio featured on NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7770258&sourceCode=RSS

Don't forget to visit our website at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/ma/for-parents.htm! Our website is updated regularly with helpful tips for talking, information about workshops, and much more. Don't miss an opportunity to be the primary sexuality educator for your children. Need help? Call our Parent Education Team at (617) 616-1658.


Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of MA

phone: (617) 616-1658
Email Marketing by