As unsavoury of a topic as this may be, it is one that has been drawn to my attention recently, most notably because of the relatively little information on the subject. It is an unfortunate perception and true to some extent, yet not completely accurate. There are multiple resources available and this post is dedicated to providing a few of them for your use. These resources include information on how to keep yourself sane processing the flood of reactions you may experience in response to finding out such devastating news; how you can discuss the topic with your child and explore issues of safety; helping your child discuss and share about the acts; impacts of sexual/physical abuse on children with autism; treatment and advocacy resources; statistics and information about why these children are at higher risk and what those risks are; information about child protective services investigations and legal assistance; and something that is often overlooked, how YOU as an expert on your child and on autism can work with emergency first responders, investigators, and other professionals to help them appropriately, safely, and successfully interact with your child around the trauma. Hopefully, you will never need to use them, yet it is something to be aware of and the risks your child faces for not only sexual abuse, but physical and psychological abuse as well. You can find these resources located below and they will also be on my resources page under: Parent Resources for Children with Special Needs and Autism about Child and Sexual Abuse.
THE CHILD ABUSE REPORTING HOTLINE IS 1-800-699-5286
Sexual Abuse Risks and Factors This is an extensive and helpful article detailing signs and risk factors facing children with autism. It does an excellent job of explaining why existing statistics are what they are and how limitations of autism contribute to heightened risk.
Autism and Sexual Assault: the Hidden Life on the Spectrum A very useful powerpoint presentation detailing risks faced by children with autism for domestic and sexual abuse. This is an excellent resource for parents to help educate child protective services investigators, first responders, doctors, lawyers, etc. on working with children on spectrum. It also provides an excellent overview of how children with autism may react to and experience the trauma and their associated behaviors to be aware of.
Recognizing and Preventing Sexual Abuse in Children with Autism Autism Speaks has a very helpful offering to assist parents and others who work with children with autism recognize signs of sexual and physical abuse. It offers numerous suggestions on how to talk about healthy and safe sexuality versus unsafe sexuality and what you, as a parent, can do to help.
Sexual Abuse Counselors and Introducing your Child with Autism to Them Another helpful resource for parents with suggestions on how to assist an abuse counselor with relating to your child with autism.
Disability and Abused-Rights Project An excellent resource with workbooks for parents and caregivers about interfacing on behalf of their relative with disabilities around issues of abuse. Also an excellent resource for assisting your physician in understanding autism and how it can contribute to difficulties in doctor's appointments.
National Disability Rights Network Provides legal and advocacy resources for victims and their families.
Office of Crime Victims Directory A state-by-state listing of crime victims resources and assistance.
Child Help A nice and friendly site with statistics and suggestions for parents and families
The Tree House Montgomery County Maryland organization providing trauma-based services to victims and their families
When a Child Tells about Sexual Abuse Advice for parents on responding to child disclosure
Help for Parents of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused by Family Members A very helpful resource for parents on coping with their reactions to child disclosure of abuse, guilt, anger, and how to manage themselves and be a stable source for their parents
Parenting a Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused Although written for foster and adoptive parents, the suggestions here are still very useful and can be easily applied to your child with autism
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