20 Dec Promoting Healthy Sexuality for Children and Adolescents With Disabilities: Updated Guidance for Pediatric Health Care Providers
Navigating healthy sexual development and boundary-setting with kids can be difficult. This may be especially so with children with disabilities. A report released earlier in the year by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Children with Disabilities outlines the important role that pediatricians play in helping children and caregivers navigate this process.
The recent report is an updated version of a report originally released by the Council in 2006. The 2006 version highlights the importance of promoting healthy sexuality in children with disabilities. The most recent report, however, has been updated to include appropriate resources for education, monitoring for a lack of coercion or violence in any sexual activity, and guidance on whether the child has reached the appropriate developmental level to navigate feelings and choices about sexual health. The goal of the newly revised report is to provide pediatricians with a blueprint of evidence-based guidance for promoting healthy sexual activity and development regardless of physical, cognitive, or social limitations.
We know that children with disabilities are three times more likely than children without disabilities to be victims of sexual abuse. Pediatricians have the opportunity to educate parents about these increased risks and monitor for signs of coercion, assault, or abuse. Most importantly, however, is educating the children themselves, when appropriate, in order to develop healthy sexual boundaries and autonomy.
Check out the most recent report.
Face It shares possible warning signs of abuse with our Body Safety 101 brochure, available to download here.
Image from Nathan Anderson- Unsplash