The concluding day of International Purple Fest-2024 discussed addressing sexual development, especially when a child is specially-abled. To assist parents in discussing relationships and growing up with their children who have disabilities, Sethu, a child development and family guidance centre, held a workshop on ‘Sexual Education for Adolescents with Disabilities.’
Sethu Director Nandita De Souza, also a developmental pediatrician, focused on the crucial aspect of sexual development in adolescents, particularly those with disabilities.
“Parents often shy away from addressing sexual development, especially when their child has a disability. It is important to dispel myths and fears rooted in ignorance and provide parents with the tools and knowledge they need,” she said.
The workshop centred on simplifying the complex topic by breaking it down into clear and manageable concepts. Using a science-based approach, participants were guided on incorporating teachable moments in daily life to help open discussions with their children. The primary emphasis centred on adolescence, which is when there are hormonal and behavioural shifts.
De Souza underscored the typicality of these changes, even in children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. The presentation covered various aspects, ranging from dispelling common myths to addressing specific challenges that adolescents with disabilities encounter during puberty. The focus was on guiding parents on what to teach their children about these matters.
“Understanding that a child has a disability can be overwhelming for parents. However, it’s important to see beyond the disability and recognise the strengths, talents, and interests of each child,” she said, offering encouragement to parents facing such situations.