Although sexuality plays a major role in the socialization of people, few studies have examined the sexual behaviors of individuals with developmental disabilities. Because of this, we decided to investigate sexuality in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder ASD and Down's syndrome Ds and to compare them with typically developing adolescents, by surveying their parents. Specifically, it was hypothesized that young people with ASD would display lower levels over five domains: social behavior, privacy, sex education, sexual behavior, and parental concerns, than peers with Ds and typically developing young people. In addition, we sought to verify developmental trends in five domains with age for each group. Overall, parents participated; 94 parents of typically developing adolescents, 93 parents of adolescents diagnosed with Ds, and 82 parents of adolescents diagnosed with ASD. Participants were surveyed with a Sexual Behavior Scale developed by Stokes and Kaur  that assesses parents' reports of their child's: social behavior, privacy awareness, sex education, sexual behavior and parental concerns about the child's behaviors.
Down's Syndrome Association
Down syndrome - Let’s Talk About Sex - Special Needs Resource
Three studies were undertaken of two cohorts of young people with Down's syndrome. One cohort, of 52 people, was born in the s and they were seen in their teens and again in their mids. The other cohort, of 26 people, was born in the s and they were seen in their teens. The studies show that while carers in both cohorts paid lip service to the rights of young people with learning disabilities to have sexual experiences and to marry, they did not necessarily feel that this applied to their own youngsters.
Sexuality and Relationships Education for people with Down syndrome
All children and young people should be entitled to good quality sex and relationships education that will allow them to develop the qualities, attitudes, skills and knowledge to develop into healthy, happy and fulfilled adults. Wood, A. Down Syndrome News and Update , 4 2 , This article describes why Sexuality and Relationships Education SRE as part of the school curriculum is especially important for individuals with Down syndrome and how parents and professionals can work together to ensure that it is delivered effectively.
This may feel a bit daunting, but it is a normal and a natural part of growing up. They will need to learn what relationships mean and how they can have a happy, safe relationship. You can find more information in our Puberty, adolesccence and sexual health booklet. You will find a lot of information on these pages.