Learning About Napkins
‘In standard four [in my school in Thailand] we were given special education, where they put girls and guys separately. They told us about menstrual cycles, sexual relations, intercourse, etc. They really taught us everything in detail. Perhaps because it was a blind school, they even taught us how to put a sanitary napkin and made sure that we could do it precisely. But some blind girls don’t even know what a sanitary napkin is. Because they’re visually impaired, no one must have shown it to them. Other kids watch it on TV or in ads, but that’s not possible for us. Actually, my mother was pretty open, and so she had shown it to me before we had the class in school.’
Namita (name changed), 28, visually impaired
‘Long before [my daughter who has a developmental disability] started, I had her practice putting on a pad and taking it off. To get her used to them, she wore them while I was having a period. I kept repeating this every month. I had to teach her the process of putting on and taking off a pad in small steps. She had difficulty using her hands, so it took a long time and a lot of patience.
At first, I guided her hands, placing my hands over hers, as she picked up the pad, took off the strip and placed the pad in her panties. After awhile, she could do each step just with telling her, “Now pick up the pad, tear off the strip…” and so on. After finishing each step, I would praise her. When she did start her period, we had a few problems. Sometimes she refused to wear the pads and would take them off. That was pretty frustrating. I solved the problem by sewing the ends of the pads into her panties. We changed the panties until she got used to the pads.’