Social-sexual education in adolescents with behavioral neurogenetic syndromes

30 Mar

A recent paper abstract I read brought up a very important topic which I don’t see discussed much: sex education for adolescents with developmental disabilities. I don’t know how good the paper itself is, but I agree with the conclusion: “Social and sexual education programs are of the utmost importance for adolescents with neurogenetic developmental disabilities. ” On one level I don’t want to think about sex and my kid. But I also have run into a belief that sex isn’t a topic to consider for people with developmental disability and autistics in particular. Perhaps I am naive, but I don’t see this as a good approach. I think sexuality is too important a topic to leave unaddressed. The discussion is going on. Just rarely in the parent-oriented online world.

Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2010;47(2):118-24.
Social-sexual education in adolescents with behavioral neurogenetic syndromes.

Plaks M, Argaman R, Stawski M, Qwiat T, Polak D, Gothelf D.
The Behavioral Neurogenetics Center, Feinberg Department of Child Psychiatry, Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, Petah Tikwa, Israel.

BACKGROUND: Adolescents with developmental disabilities have unmet needs in their sexual and social knowledge and skills. We conducted a sexual social group intervention in adolescents with neurogenetic syndromes, mainly with Williams and velocardiofacial syndromes and their parents.
METHOD: Ten adolescents with neurogenetic syndromes and 14 parents participated in a Social Sexual Group Education Program. The program was delivered in 10 biweekly sessions to the adolescents and their parents separately.
RESULTS: The focus of psychoeducation in both groups was the adolescents’ self-identification, acceptance of the developmental disability, independence, establishment of friendship and intimate relationship, sexual knowledge and sexual development, and safety skills. Change in independent activities of adolescents and in their concept of “Friend” was measured.
CONCLUSIONS: Social and sexual education programs are of the utmost importance for adolescents with neurogenetic developmental disabilities. These programs should start already before adolescence and follow the children into young adulthood.

2 Responses to “Social-sexual education in adolescents with behavioral neurogenetic syndromes”

  1. vmgillen March 30, 2011 at 18:40 #

    This is something that needs to be considered with early intervention, not just teens. For example, consider the sexual implications of teaching/training for no-questions-asked compliance! and a cute toddler who hugs everybody is a whole nother thing when they get larger – a real change in socially appropriate boundaries, and very confusing. Further, the good fairy of sexuality does not appear at a set time and bonk a person on the head, telling them to go out and play. You are quite right: there is a dreadul lack of attention to this for teens/young adults: that’s closing the barn door behind the escapees. And just try arguing that it be considered for younger groups!

  2. Stephanie April 5, 2011 at 14:19 #

    One thing I’ve noticed is a tendency to deny that individuals with significant disabilities even have a sexual life. That goes for children and for adults. It’s like there’s this belief that even though the child goes through puberty, grows up, and becomes an adult that they’re sexuality is non-existent because they don’t fit some pre-conceived notion of “those who have sex.”

    My kids are still young enough that sex is definitely not an option (14, 12, 11, and 8), but their sexuality is going to be part of their life and they’re going to need to have a knowledge base to deal with that and make their own choices concerning how they respond to it. Their disabilities don’t change that.

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