The 'M' word nobody wants to talk about

Published on May 16, 2018

I had the pleasure of meeting with an old colleague today, after many years. While we were catching up on times past, we happened to chance upon a topic about which we both share very similar views.  The question I am referring to is one that most people are either shy to discuss or wish did not exist. However, the fact is that the reality of the ‘M' word or dare I elaborate…the phenomenon of MASTURBATION within the context of children with different needs, cannot be ignored. The reason why I have capitalized the word is not to cause outrage or evoke disgust but to emphasize that it is an act that most males (at least) indulge in (please note that I said most not all) and that it is NORMAL to do so. I am not aiming for a religious or philosophical debate here, simply stating what is factual. Then why is it that when it comes to our children with differences, developmental or physical, we expect forced abstinence, denial and shame the subject? Why do we stigmatize a natural drive that is considered normal for neurotypicals but unacceptable for the neurodiverse?

I will not deny that when our children with different abilities are going through puberty, masturbation can pose many challenges. For obvious reasons, it is an act that calls for extreme privacy, and without question, no parent wants to witness their child engage in it or exhibit it. Unfortunately, with our special children a lot of times the discretion that we ideally desire, is not possible but that does not mean that the event cannot be handled sensibly. 

Instead of getting rid of the so-called problem (which it is not because it is normal) there are workable solutions to the issue. I found a solution that worked for my son, and I am confident that with the help of empathetic professionals and supportive parenting so can others who are facing the same dilemma.

In my case, I set specific boundaries around the act for my son who was allowed to indulge in it in a specified room beyond which there were consequences. With a few hiccups initially, he began to understand his limits, and we found a resolution to the problem.

There may not be such a thing as a perfect solution, but there is always a way of handling what may seem like an insurmountable problem provided there is acceptance accompanied by perseverance and compassion.

Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development, Teenage Issues

Written by:


hums34 belongs to Coloured Canvas in Singapore

Mental Health News