illustration of underwear on washing line spelling PANTS

illustration of dad and girl on sofaThe Underwear Rule helps parents teach children on the autism spectrum about sexual abuse.

The NSPCC and The National Autistic Society have joined forces and developed an autism-specific version of the popular resource. This version of the Underwear Rule provides parents of children on autism the spectrum with additional guidance on how they can keep them safe from abuse.

With research indicating that disabled children are three times more vulnerable to abuse*, both the NSPCC and The National Autistic Society are encouraging parents to talk PANTS with their children to help keep them safe. PANTS is an easy way for parents to start conversations with their children about the Underwear Rule:

PANTS acrostic

Privates are private
Always remember your body belongs to you
No means no
Talk about secrets that upset you
Speak up, someone can help

Nearly 40 per cent of parents with children aged 5-11 now recognise the Underwear Rule campaign and encouragingly 63 per cent of these parents have spoken to their children about keeping safe from abuse.** 

Carol Povey, Director of The National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said: "Children living with autism often have social difficulties which can make them more vulnerable to abuse than their peers. They may find it harder to interpret other people's motivations or struggle to recognise situations in which they are being taken advantage of."

"Talking to children about sexual abuse can help them to stay safe but can be uncomfortable for parents and carers. The NSPCC have recognised this challenge and worked with us to produce this autism-specific guide to give parents a simple way to start this conversation with their children." illustration of boy and girl in underwear

"By explaining the potential dangers of society to children with autism in a clear and accessible way, we can help to ensure that they stay safe."

Our website offers further information about visual supports, social stories, and sex education and puberty.

Visit the NSPCC website for further information about the NSPCC Underwear Rule campaign. The NSPCC and Mencap have worked together to produce an easy-read version for parents and children who have a learning disability.


* Frequently quoted studies including Sullivan and Knutson (2000) have found that disabled children were 3.4 times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled children.

** Research conducted with YouGov on behalf of the NSPCC.