Understanding Adolescence & Puberty

Understanding Adolescence and Puberty
for Girls and Boys with Down Syndrome

Teens and tweens with Down syndrome go through puberty during the same years as their typically developing peers (ages 9-14), and as with all children, they have questions and concerns about the changes affecting their bodies during this time of their life.

“Understanding Adolescence and Puberty” is based on books by Terri Couwenhoven, M.S. (www.terricouwenhoven.com) who specializes in the design and implementation of sexuality programs and resources for people with intellectual disabilities and their parents who support them. The parent class is taught by Rebecca Partridge, MD, head of the Down Syndrome Program at Virginia Mason https://www.virginiamason.org/down-syndrome,  who also has a 16 year old son with Down syndrome. The following boys and girls classes are taught by Beth Olenchek, a health educator at Virginia Mason.

The four-session classes include:

  • Session 1: parents/caregivers only, class overview
  • Session 2: Body Basics
  • Session 3: Hygiene
  • Session 4: Safety

The first one hour session, for the parents/caregivers only, will be an overview of what to expect from the class. The following three, one hour sessions will be gender-specific and include the parent/caregiver; the girls’ and boys’ classes will each meet for one hour.  The topics for the weekly sessions will be the same for both girls and boys, but the details included will be gender specific.

The class will use the following books all by Terri Couwenhoven, M.S.:

  • Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality: A Guide for Parents and Professionals
  • The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up: Choices & Changes in the Tween Years
  • The Boys’ Guide to Growing Up: Choices & Changes during Puberty

* Books are included in the program.

When: Saturday, January 11, 1:00 – 2:00 PM – parents/caregivers only
Saturdays, January 18, 25, and February 1
1:00-2:00 PM – girls and parents/caregivers
2:30-3:30 PM – boys and parents/caregivers
Where: Virginia Mason Issaquah, 100 NE Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, WA, 98027

Registration will open soon. Questions? Email contact@downsyndromecommunity.org for more information.