Teaching about Puberty
(For Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities)
No child should experience their first period or their first wet dream without knowing about it ahead of time. It’s just too scary. Start talking with your child about puberty before it begins, and then continue the discussions all throughout puberty.
Not as easy as it sounds? Then take a look at the following resources. You'll find plenty of activities to use with your child.
- A good place to start is lesson 17 ("Understanding the Body, Day 2: Puberty") in Special Education FLASH (Family Life and Sexual Health) from Public Health – Seattle & King County. This lesson was originally written for educators, but it can be easily adapted for use by parents. Click here to download a PDF version of the lesson.
- Check out chapter 5 ("Teaching Your Child about the Physical Changes of Puberty") in Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Terri Couwenhoven (click here to learn more about this book). Most of the activities presented here are not specific to Down Syndrome, so don't be put off by the book's title if your child has a different developmental disability. You'll still find plenty of great activities to use with your child.
- Are you sure you've brought up everything you need to discuss? Compare your list with the list in "Puberty – What Your Tween/Teenager Needs to Know" in Sexuality and Disability: A Guide for Parents from Alberta Health Services. Click here to download a PDF version of the handbook.
- If your child has Asperger's Syndrome, you might want to get them this book: Making Sense of Sex: A Forthright Guide to Puberty, Sex and Relationships for People with Asperger’s Syndrome by Sarah Attwood.
- Finally, your last step should be to read All About Puberty: A Handbook for Children and Parents. This handbook was originally created for use by parents and their children with typical development, but you can adapt many of the activities for your own use. You should also find a lot of the information helpful. The handbook is in PDF format, so you’ll be able to save it to your computer and print out any pages that you want.
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