Disability and Puberty

The onset of adulthood is not hindered by disability. As the body developed there will come a point where sexual maturity and adolescence is reached. This is a strange and confusing time for all parents and children which is why we must be frank.

Puberty usually begins around the age of 11, though slightly before and later is not too unusual. For boys and girls this means the onset of body hair and of oilier skin. This can mean the twin horrors of body odour and acne might develop but which can be dealt with.

The problem usually associated with boys with disability developing sexually is as they develop and explore their bodies, awkward outbursts of masturbation might erupt. It is healthy to explore the body, but clear boundaries need to be established. There has to be frank discussion between parent, elders, teachers and children over what is and is not acceptable. This must cover the notion of consent as well.

For girls, this issue does also stand and should be discussed. There other concerns for girls, the onset of menstruation needs to be explained as a healthy and normal process and the proper hygenic practices demonstrated.

A concerning practice has developed where disabled girls have had the coil forced upon them to restrict the possibility of pregnancy. This is invasive. Moreover it doesn’t protect the girl from STDs. It is much better to talk to girls about contraception and the mechanisms of sex.

The most important thing is support. This is a difficult time for everyone involved and so we must help each other.



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