Developmental Disabilities and Sexuality

We Received an E Mail from the mother of a 31 year old male who was starting into a relationship with a 21 year old female who is also developmentally delayed. Both sets of parents have explained sex to their children but are concerned that they “just don't get it.”

SUE SAYS: I am so impressed that both sets of parents have done the basics of sex education and are also open to expand on it or answer questions. It does appear that both sets of parents are concerned that their children are vulnerable to being emotionally hurt, which may happen. It happens to most people at some time in their life, and even slow learners are more resilient than we give them credit for. They are both adults and parents cannot protect them for life. Eventually, they are going to want to make it on their own, and as parents, it is our job to prepare them then let the go.

Most young adults do not want to learn the intimate details of sex from their parents, so you may find it more effective if you are able to locate a support group in your community. Some Planned Parenthoods or Department of Public Health or Boards of Education will be able to help you.

For example, topics like unrealistic expectations of the role of sex in a relationship, body image and comfort, menstruation, masturbation, foreplay, contraception condoms and safer sex are just a few areas that will come up for discussion.

It sounds as though you, as parents, have done an admirable job helping your children develop into mature loving and responsible adults, and your young adults are fortunate to have such caring and involved parents.

There are a few good resources for you to use to work with your kids, one of the very best books available is; SEXUALITY : YOUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES by Karin Melberg Schwier and Dave Hingsburger, published by Paul H. Brookes Publishers, Baltimore, Toronto. (General Publishing)