Sexual Education for Adolescents with Down Syndrome

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

Thesis Advisor

Bonnie Napier-Tibere, EdD, OTR/L

Second Advisor

Stacy Frauwirth, MS, OTR/L


The availability of adequate sexual education resources for persons with Down syndrome is nearly nonexistent (Tipper, 2001). Without sexual education, persons with a cognitive deficit may be more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation (Van Dyke, McBrien, & Sherbondy, 1995). The purpose of this thesis was to design a resource discussing sexual education that specifically addressed the needs of adolescents with Down syndrome. For an adolescent with Down syndrome who would like information regarding sex and sexuality issues, the occupational therapist can offer his or her expertise in three areas of occupation including: activities of daily living, social participation and education. The resource provides information in a clear and concise manner to educate the teenager and provide a useful resource for parents. Educational materials need to be written at a level that people with developmental disabilities can understand (McConnell, Llewellyn, & Bye, 1997).

A local organization called Matrix Parent Network and Family Resource Center was contacted and offered their support for this project-based thesis (Appendices B & C). The resource was assessed for effectiveness by parents who work at Matrix Parent Network and Resource Center. All of the respondents were in favor of the resource as it was presented. A sexual education resource for adolescents with Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities is a valuable tool that occupational therapists can offer their clients.

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