(NEW YORK) -- For Judy Blake, a mother of two sons, both with autism spectrum disorder, it was important for her to have the sex talk with them at an early age, in clear and specific terms.
"A parent of a child with special needs doesn't just have to be two steps ahead, but 10 steps ahead," said Blake, author of the book, Judy's World, which discusses her experience as a mother to two sons with autism. "For many kids, learning about sex requires a lot of repetition about safety, appropriateness, social cues and relationships."
Lorraine Merkl, a mother of an eighth grade student at the Aaron Academy, a special education school based in New York City, agrees that sex education must be presented in a gradual, individualistic and repetitive way for many children with intellectual disabilities.
"The school does a good job of laying the foundation of sex, the nuts and bolts, but allows parents like me to talk to their kids about the emotional and moral aspects of sex," said Merkl, whose daughter has Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
That's because the school makes a conscious effort to incorporate sex education in its mission to educate mindful and responsible adults.
"We have specialized instruction around difficult issues," said Barbara McKeon, director of the Aaron Academy. "Many students are physically mature, but not there emotionally. They are a more vulnerable part of the population, being bombarded by media and social networking, it can be difficult to sort out what is expected."
The Aaron Academy follows an educational framework based on research in cognitive neurosciences. The method encourages flexible learning environments that accommodate individual learning differences, and sex education is a key modality in the school's education mission.
New York City schools are mandated to teach sexual education. Nevertheless, McKeon said "sex ed is not the goal, but a part of the process" at the school.
Relationship and decision-making concepts are built into the school's courses. There is focus around health and hygiene for teens going through puberty and students keep journals to write down thoughts they do not want to discuss out loud.
McKeon also said administrators use a "red light, green light" tactic. If students say something inappropriate to another teacher or student, they will hear "red light."
"The inappropriate comment will fade off and the students are able to process appropriate conversations in a better way," said McKeon.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio