Hudson Valley Parent

HVP April 2019

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Page 18 of 43 n Hudson Valley Parent 19 4-year-old daughter with high functioning autism, conversations regarding consent occur frequently. "My daughter craves physical attention, hugs, kisses and gentle squeezes," Teig-Morris explains. "So, we spend time discussing boundaries, 'personal bubbles,' and asking permission to hug others. Though quite articulate for her age, my daughter requires constant behavioral reminders. She doesn't catch social cues from others often, either." And even at the youngest ages, consent can be taught to children. Felicity Taylor of New Paltz uses a simple, easy-to-remember phrase with her 5-year-old daughter: "my body, my rules." Additionally, modeling consent can also be an effective path to conceptual comprehension. "At bath time, I would ask for my kids' permission before washing their different body parts, rather than just doing it," Bagnarol explains. A critical component of conversations about consent is to define safe and unsafe touches with kids. These discussions are of tremendous importance to have no matter what a child's age. Additionally, these talks should never be solely a one-shot deal, and instead be revisited numerous times throughout a young person's childhood years. 4. Know your body Within discussions regarding consent, and particularly safe and unsafe touches, it is paramount that we as parents use anatomically correct names to refer to body parts. Personally, though I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, I admit to struggling with it in practice after Saige was first born. In fact, during the first several years of Saige's life, I referred to a vagina as a "crotch," simply due to being too squeamish to say vagina. Thankfully, I got over my aversion quickly, and while Saige was still pretty young. After hearing my then three-year-old call her vagina her "front butt," I was pretty mortified. Katie Illardi of Poughkeepsie firmly believes in the importance of teaching kids the correct names for body parts. "It builds a sense of normalcy about both the (Continued on Page 20)

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