Guiding a Child with Down Syndrome through Puberty
You finally reached a milestone and your Down syndrome child is a teen now. Down syndrome children are no different than other teenagers because they still go through the same physical, emotional and hormonal changes that every other kid their age does. Teens that have Down syndrome are close to the same age as other teens when they experience puberty. This is where you come in and have to explain this to your special child, so they can understand why they are feeling different and why their bodies are changing. Down syndrome teens are no different than teens because they still start to become attracted to the opposite sex. They want to fall in love and have a relationship just like everyone else. Kids that have Down syndrome that are interested in starting a relationship, still need extra help. You have to teach them what a relationship means and how they can be happy and have a safe and wholesome relationship.
Down syndrome kids are still like normal teens because they want to begin to be more independent and push the limits. This is quite normal but this doesn’t mean that you should put up with abusive behavior. You can give them more independence and let your child make some of their own choices as much as you are comfortable with. Just remember they still have to have rules just like any other teen and they must understand those rules. In addition, make sure your Down syndrome teen understands that they too will suffer consequences if they break any rules.
Guiding the child through puberty
In the past, people did not feel that children with Down syndrome had any sexuality concerns that needed to be worried about. Therapists viewed Down syndrome as a form of mental retardation and believed that children with Down syndrome would always think like a child. This is not so, because all people with Down syndrome have needs and it’s very important that their feelings are recognized in today’s world as being socially acceptable. Of course, the teens must be around age appropriate people like themselves and be understood by their families and other caregivers in their lives. Down syndrome teens go through the same physical and hormone developments that occur with puberty as other teens their age. The only difference is the maturity level might be slower, these kids might have more problems with self-control, emotions, social awkwardness and some types of human problem-solving issues that occur in relationships.
It’s important to create a healthy environment that is understood for healthy sexual expression. This subject should be designed in the different programs that a Down syndrome child participates in. You can’t expect anything positive in regards to sexual awareness unless the teen understands some sort of empowerment, has self-esteem, has a clear understanding of what a relationship is and has learned personal and communication skills. If teens with Down syndrome are taught by their caregivers, vocational teachers and learn through their residential programs, the point of their intimacy won’t be very satisfying to a Down’s syndrome child.
Men and women that have Down’s syndrome still are at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STI)s, just like anyone else. They are trained to use condoms during sexual encounters and are informed about AIDS, herpes and other important sexually transmitted diseases. Down syndrome teens are taught about sex education and how not to get and transmit an STD.
Women and girl’s that have Down syndrome are no different than any other people in puberty. Most start their periods around the age of 12. Some girls that are from all walks of life may start a bit sooner. Every woman including Down syndrome have regular cycles and the same problems with irregular cycles. All women in addition’ to Down syndrome women can experience pain during their periods or have to see a doctor if they need a medical exam. Menopause is virtually the same as well and usually happens to Down syndrome women after age 40, however; many other women experience menopause after age 40 as well.
Sexual Education is important to prevent sexual abuse
When people appear vulnerable, abuse is more likely to happen. It’s important to inform Down syndrome teens about the role of a grooming relationship. This is the groomer’s means of filling in the void of a friend, different experiences, mental stimulation and positive feedback. Ignorance occurs when the child grows up with feelings of loneliness, lack of attention and feeling isolated at times sets off these issues of vulnerability. Now if your child is very independent, and has the experience of making good choices, and most likely has good friends and is concerned about sexuality with a partner. Education is the key to teach the Down syndrome teens to choose the right choices so overall their quality of life is healthy. There are six important areas that these teens need to know and understand. Good hygiene, self-esteem, relationships, the study of the scientific body parts, learning to empower themselves, social skills and social opportunities.
The 21st century is a great time for people with all kinds of disabilities and for the people who work and support these teens. There are more advances in medical procedures, more mainstreaming of the teens into the regular education system and many cultural changes have taken place in the last 10 years. These are the changes that help the teens with Down syndrome live a happy and prosperous life with their families. People with Down syndrome of all ages can work and learn how to use a debit card. Build relationships through work and school, become familiar with the community and eventually date and can possibly get married. Sexual education helps these teens reach their goals with relationships that make their lives more satisfying and still understand to watch out for their own safety issues.
There have only been three known cases of Down syndrome men being fertile. It’s a possibility that in the future more additional cases will occur considering men with Down syndrome have an increased life expectancy. Studies have not revealed if the children born to Down syndrome men have the same condition. In addition, Down syndrome men have a lower fertility rate than men that don’t have the gene. Contraception should always be used until the two people decide they want to start a family. Semen tests have been analyzed and men with Down syndrome do have lower sperm counts, however; there still could be a possibility of a pregnancy. It’s very important that Down syndrome teens understand the use of contraception.