Friday, April 17, 2020

Autism Answer: The Brain Broad Talks about Lust - Helping Teenagers with Autism through Puberty and Beyond

The following article originally appeared on and - both are excellent resources as well as fantastic places to submit your writing and releases. I added the "sister memory" part here for you, my personal blog readers. I know you kinda get me. :D

“I share this with you because I want you to understand the rest of the world doesn’t want to deal with this. So it’s up to caregivers, direct service providers, and parents. Come on, guys. Get comfortable.”

That is the line Dr. Lynette Louise, aka The Brain Broad, leaves us with in a recent video from her Autism ABCs series. It is in the video for the letter “L” which, she decides, stands for “Lust.” 

Dr. Lynette Louise is a renowned international brain change and behavior expert specializing in autism. And, importantly, she is also the single mother (in fact, she is my mother!) of eight now grown children. Six were adopted, and four landed on the autism spectrum. (Only one still retains the label.)

April is both Autism Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Because Dr. Lynette Louise is an expert in both, she always chooses to offer help and answers free during this time of the year. 

Considering global efforts to stay home or shelter in place, Lynette has been releasing one short video daily, in an Autism ABCs series to YouTube. Each day represented by a new letter in the English alphabet. 

“L” for lust is particularly timely. And incredibly valuable. 

“I like using the word lust in this category because most people don’t think of someone with autism, especially someone in a lower functioning situation, they don’t think of it so much as a sexual drive as a puberty problem,” she tells us. “But testosterone in boys, and in girls – when a girl is reaching her time for ovulation she doesn’t just have estrogen and progesterone, she also gets testosterone to increase her sexual drive – so sexual drive is a big subject here.”

It is challenging for most parents to teach their children about sex, about consent, about appropriate behavior. But when the person you are teaching has autism, or is otherwise uniquely challenged to learn social skills, understand their body, and/or has sensory issues, it is far more difficult. 

“You’re going to have to help them,” Lynette tells us, upfront and strong but with understanding.

After all, she not only helped all of her own children learn to understand and appropriately explore their sexual drive, but she also travels helping families globally. (Season two of her international docu-series FIX IT IN FIVE is largely about helping a young man and his single mom during this phase of life.)

“If you think of it as a sexual drive, a lust – lust for life but also, lust for sex - then maybe you can separate it out for them. Here’s an example. I say, ‘Yes, that’s a pillow. That feels great when you push your body against it. We all do it, though we do it differently. And we do it privately.’ And before I worry about the rest, I teach private time."

Lynette’s candor is refreshing, but also necessary. An example for those of us who will need to be candid as we teach this. 

Not only are disabled and cognitively challenged people at greater risk of being inappropriate sexually, which leads to misunderstanding and uncomfortable cruelties, but they are also at greater risk of being sexually abused. Particularly as they misunderstand and act out and seek sensory gratification during puberty.

Sister Memory: When a few of my brothers were going through puberty, and we were living on the road homeschooling in an RV as well as various resorts (yes, my life is awesome, thank you for noticing!) we were often squished into compact sleeping quarters. This is not conducive to an easy exploration of sex during puberty, even for the more neuro-typical among us. And for my brothers, well, it was equally challenging if not a bit stranger. Luckily, my mom had exampled and taught a comfortable, kind, strong style regarding this topic. She showed us how to have these important conversations. I won't pretend I was always actually comfortable (c'mon, I was saying things like, "You can't hump my back when we sleep but I will show you a place you can go for privacy because the desire you're having is natural," and, "it is not okay to take a picture of your erect penis and show it to people, although I see you are proud of it. Let me give you ideas for how you can be proud of your penis without hurting others or getting yourself in trouble." so, ya, I was a little awkward) but I was always certain that freaking out or being angry in my discomfort would not only hurt them but make all of our lives more challenging in the long run.  

Taking on the role of teaching your child or charge about what is happening to their body, how to be private as they explore their lust, and who they can safely communicate questions or curiosities with, is not only going to help them grow a healthy understanding of themselves and sex, but also helps them stay safe. They are more likely to avoid abuse or tell you when something is happening to them. 

“Think back,” Lynette encourages us toward the end of the video. “Puberty’s rough. Puberty with no assistance, no understanding of what to do with this feeling, and where it’s okay and where it isn’t okay, and who you can ask and who you can’t ask; puberty without that guidance is a train wreck. It’s a problem that’s going to grow so big you’ll end up maybe putting your child in a group home. When all you had to do is get comfortable with saying, ‘Hey, maybe he’s acting the way he’s acting because he’s horny.’ Or ‘Possibly, she’s acting the way she’s acting because she wants to connect with somebody. And connect her genitals.’ This is real. This is your job as parents and caregivers.”

Please watch this valuable video. And, more than that, please share it with others. 

The truth is, this wouldn’t be nearly as hard for us to do and be comfortable with if our communities, our neighborhoods, and our societies were sufficiently educated and properly involved. 

Autism ABCs with Dr. Lynette Louise: “L” is for Lust
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A few of us at the resort