Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Healthy Bodies Toolkit Addresses Puberty in Adolescents with Developmental Disabilties

Updated on 6/12/2013 2:45:38 PM.

Source: Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

When you ask parents of adolescents and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities about the challenges their families are currently facing, more often than not issues related to puberty will make it to the top of the list. While young people with disabilities will go through many of the same physical and emotional changes that typically developing young people will go through, unique challenges may make this a somewhat stressful time for families.

A new toolkit Healthy Bodies: A Parent’s Guide on Puberty for Adolescents with Disabilities addresses the needs of these families and is a response to the limited number of practical resources about puberty and disabilities. The toolkit was developed by Vanderbilt University Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Cassandra Newsom, Psy.D., and trainees in the Vanderbilt Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Training Program. It has been produced and is being disseminated by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

The toolkit is written for a broad range of disabilities and provides a wide variety of visual supports and social stories that are especially useful for youth with autism or youth who are nonverbal. So that visuals and information fit gender, both male and female toolkits have been produced. The toolkit deals simply and directly with practical matters of puberty. Examples of topics and supports include hygiene, menstruation, nocturnal emissions, and appropriate behavior in public vs. private settings.

Healthy Bodies: A Parent’s Guide on Puberty for Adolescents With Disabilities and its appendices may be downloaded free of charge.

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