2007 ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award: Finalist in Parenting Category
2008 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA): Honors Award
Parents of children with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are accustomed to paying close attention to their child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development. This proactive approach should also include their child’s sexual development, which for many parents may not seem as obvious or urgent, especially to those with young children.
Drawing on her unique background as both a sexual educator and mother of a child with Down syndrome, the author blends factual information and practical ideas for teaching children with Down syndrome about their bodies, puberty, and sexuality. This book gives parents the confidence to speak comfortably about these sometimes difficult subjects.
In an easy-to-read, non-clinical style, the book covers relevant issues and concerns for children of all ages, such as:
- Labeling & explaining private body parts
- Identifying & expressing emotions
- Respecting personal space
- Teaching self-care & hygiene
- Understanding norms of privacy
- Understanding gender identity
- Showing appropriate levels of affection
It also covers later issues that affect teenagers and young adults, including:
- Anticipating and understanding puberty
- Dealing with periods, bras for girls
- Experiencing erections, wet dreams for boys
- Relating to the opposite sex
- Sharing parental values about sexuality
- Explaining sexual relationships
- Preventing sexual abuse
- Understanding how Down syndrome affects puberty & fertility rates
Each chapter highlights important points with key messages, teaching activities, parental pauses, and anecdotes, all of which prompt readers to stop and consider concepts or values associated with a particular topic. The final chapter covers the special concerns of parents who are now teaching teenage or adult children about sexuality for the first time. It concludes with extensive appendices containing invaluable teaching materials and illustrations of body parts and functions.
Written by Terri Couwenhoven, M.S.
Terri Couwenhoven is an AASECT certified sexuality educator who specializes in working with people who have intellectual disabilities, their families, and the professionals who support them. When she is not teaching, she is Clinic Coordinator for the Down Syndrome Clinic of Wisconsin at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Terri has two daughters, her oldest has Down syndrome.