Talk to Me
Published by Down Syndrome NSW, 1999 (an initiative funded by the NSW Department for Women)
Table of Contents
Feelings, self esteem and friends
Attitudes and values
Parents' concerns about sexuality education
How to Support Sexuality
Disclosure of Sexual Abuse
Resource List for Parents
Weight Management in Down Syndrome, by Joan Medlen
WOMEN AND GIRLS' SECTION
Talk to Me has been specifically written to assist parents in preparing their daughters with Down syndrome for adolescence. It contains very explicit sexual language, clear drawings of body parts and explanations of their functions (as one would expect!). When you reach the time to begin to teach you daughter about her body this is the resource you need.
The sections for Women and Girls have workbooks on Feelings and Self Esteem to expand vocabulary and understanding, which are suitable for use from ten years old to adult. As a first step to using this resource please read the preface.
Before you begin to read this resource, I would like to reassure you that you are not alone in this pursuit. To develop this resource, a group of mothers and their teenage daughters worked together with a facilitator for a year, sharing openly their fears and doubts about their daughters' sexual development. So really, you are just joining us, and we welcome you, and wish you well.
The area of personal development can be very difficult for many parents. We postpone what is probably the most crucial training of our daughter's life, kidding ourselves that she doesn't need it yet, or will never need it, or just stalling, because we don't know where to start.
This resource has been written for you and your daughter, to enable you both to work through this area, taking it at your own pace. We mothers found some areas very difficult to cope with, but as the year went on, and we got used to opening up on sensitive issues, we came to realise just how much we had grown in the acceptance of our daughters' sexuality. The girls also benefited greatly, and showed a marked increase in self-confidence.
The contents of the sexuality training are often confronting, because issues we rarely discuss, with anyone, are explicitly addressed. Please don't be put off by that, but rather keep going. Even read it lots of times, because it gets easier, the more times you "hear" it in this way. Your daughter's sexual development is inevitable. Her understanding of it depends on clear, explicit information, simply given, over time. So do read all of "Talk to Me", to increase your confidence, and then you will be better prepared to share it with your daughter.
Meeting with other parents who have similarly aged daughters, to discuss the issues that arise during adolescence is of great benefit. If you can organise this, make sure that they also have a copy of "Talk to Me". Just talking about things we find difficult to deal with seems to lift the weight. Often, someone else has faced the same dilemma, and can offer their experience. If you don't have someone locally, then ring the Down Syndrome NSW (02 9683 4333), to ask for a contact in your area.
The earlier you start this work with your daughter, the more prepared she will be for the onset of puberty, which is not delayed in girls with Down syndrome. We hope you find this resource very helpful, and wish you and your daughter well in your endeavours.
Prue Maclean Project Co-ordinator Down Syndrome NSW
Free download of "Talk to Me" (578 KB, .pdf)
Permission is given for other non-profit organisations working with and for people with intellectual disabilities to use, translate into other languages, and to adapt this manual, Talk to Me, with the provisions that:
- the original publishers and contributors must be explicitly acknowledged
- it is not distributed for profit
For copyright enquiries, contact Down Syndrome NSW : firstname.lastname@example.org.