by Maggie Rudnicki
Sex education is an incredibly important part of any child’s education and will shape their beliefs and experiences going into sexual maturity. The urge to reproduce is one of our most basic biological imperatives that goes back to Darwinian evolution – we are driven to survive and reproduce. It is, therefore, of great importance for everyone to understand how their bodies work and how to take care of them. Sex education should be place for young people to learn about puberty, reproduction, gender, sexuality, sex, the benefits and risks of sex, reproductive health, and interpersonal relationships. Unfortunately, many people across the country do not have access to comprehensive sex education. Individuals with disabilities are particularly affected by this. Society has trouble viewing people with disabilities as sexual and thus excludes them from sex education. When people with disabilities do receive sex education it is often an inaccessible curriculum that doesn’t fit their learning style or body. Better sex education for people with disabilities can have numerous benefits such as protection from sexual assault; better hygiene, social skills, and body positivity; and a more fulfilling sex life.
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This presentation discusses the shift in definition of autism to a biologically rooted disorder and an “epidemic” through the lens of autistic activism, hypothesizing causes for and pointing out issues inherent in this discourse. The role of Autism Speaks in contributing to a pathologizing narrative is discussed, using the example of the 2009 “I Am Autism” video. Social versus medical models of disability are compared, and the work of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) in response to the 2007 “Ransom Notes” campaign is discussed as an example of autistic activism.