Dating a girl with down syndrome

Sexuality relates to our understanding of what it means physically, psychologically and culturally to be male or female.

It includes an awareness of our feelings, needs and desires and develops gradually across the lifespan with our changing life experiences.

X These myths are socially constructed by people without Down syndrome and may serve a number of functions, e.g.

the latter is likely to have been constructed at a time when most people with intellectual disabilities lived in single-sex institutions with little or no stimulation of any kind; it could be used to legitimise sexual abuse by staff and/or sterilisation as a means of social control X These beliefs may in part be true, however, there is extremely limited research in these areas; the research that exists is also based on generations from an age when most adults with Down syndrome were living in institutions, under abnormal circumstances.

As we mature physically and developmentally, we will develop a range of strategies to express and fulfil these changing feelings, needs and desires.

Sexuality can be said to be an important component of our self-concept and as such, will affect our interactions with others, our behavior and our life-style choices.

In some instances, anxieties about abuse, exploitation, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections have overtaken our appreciation that firstly, personal relationships do not always lead to sexual intercourse and secondly that the positive aspects of sexuality and affection are natural, healthy expressions of our humanity, whether or not we have an intellectual disability.

Melburg Schwier describes how our fears may become exaggerated to such an extent that we deny young people with disabilities the right to grow into adults who are able and allowed to have relationships that provide companionship, conversation, trust, love and an appreciation of who they are.

negotiation, problem solving, friendship, communication, assertiveness, personal care) and knowledge (e.g.about puberty, reproduction, sexually transmitted infections). Box 2 provides an overview of some of the different topics that you might expect a child to learn about over the years.Below, we discuss the significance of these topic areas for children with Down syndrome and how parents and schools can work together to provide appropriate teaching and learning experiences, differentiated to the individual child's needs and his or her learning style.There are documented cases of men with Down syndrome who have fathered children although there are many more documented cases of women with Down syndrome who have given birth.Please see Melberg Schwier and Hingsburger (2000) for a review of current knowledge in this area.

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