This clinical report updates a 2006 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics titled “Sexuality of Children and Adolescents With Developmental Disabilities.” The development of a healthy sexuality best occurs through appropriate education, absence of coercion and violence, and developmental acquisition of skills to navigate feelings, desires, relationships, and social pressures. Pediatric health care providers are important resources for anticipatory guidance and education for all children and youth as they understand their changing bodies, feelings, and behaviors. Yet, youth with disabilities and their families report inadequate education and guidance from pediatricians regarding sexual health development. In the decade since the original clinical report was published, there have been many advancements in the understanding and care of children and youth with disabilities, in part because of an increased prevalence and breadth of autism spectrum disorder as well as an increased longevity of individuals with medically complex and severely disabling conditions. During this same time frame, sexual education in US public schools has diminished, and there is emerging evidence that the attitudes and beliefs of all youth (with and without disability) about sex and sexuality are being formed through media rather than formal education or parent and/or health care provider sources. This report aims to provide the pediatric health care provider with resources and tools for clinical practice to address the sexual development of children and youth with disabilities. The report emphasizes strategies to promote competence in achieving a healthy sexuality regardless of physical, cognitive, or socioemotional limitations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health