How can people get Down syndrome

Still a taboo - sexuality in people with Down syndrome

Wilfried Wagner-Stolp from the Bundesvereinigung Lebenshilfe in Marburg pointed this out at the event "Down Syndrome and Sexuality" during this year's German Down Sports Festival of the Hexal Foundation. In contrast to non-disabled children who ask on their own, parents of children with Down syndrome must take the initiative themselves.

You have to ask questions, explain body functions in clear, simple words and break down your own shame barriers. They are often confronted with amazing questions or requests. For example, when explaining the difference between men and women, the question may follow: "Show me, what about you?" Or when explaining sexual intercourse: "Do it yourself!"

Not talking about sexuality also carries the risk of sexual abuse. Because children with Down syndrome are open and show great confidence in other people, reminded Wagner-Stolpe. That is why practicing a suitable distance and closeness is immensely important.

Parents must also be made aware that young people with disabilities often suffer more from changes in their bodies during puberty than non-disabled people, says Wagner-Stolp. Because suddenly "something is wrong with them again". Sensitive support is therefore required so that awakening sexuality is not understood as a further deficit, but as normal. Gynecological or pediatric practices that offer special advice for people with Down syndrome or advice centers from pro familia can help here.

Wagner-Stolpe advises parents to let their teenagers with Down syndrome do what healthy siblings are allowed to do: being with their clique, attending the concert of their favorite band, celebrating parties - and even snogging a little!

"If you take your children's right to self-determination seriously, you must then also talk about the choice of contraceptive or about the issue of having children," said Wagner-Stolp. For many parents this is a particularly explosive topic. After all, two thirds of all women with trisomy 21 are fertile. But around half of their children also have Down syndrome. Men are considered sterile.

In principle, all contraceptives are suitable for people with Down syndrome, says Wagner-Stolp. "But they have to be advised clearly about it." Reminder aids, for example, are helpful so that the pill is taken regularly. For example, an alarm clock could be programmed so that it always reminds you to take it, recommended Wagner-Stolp.

To ensure that contraception does not only become an issue once pregnancy has occurred, parents should also urge support from school. One example of this is the "Let's talk about ..." project by pro familia Hessen in cooperation with the BKK regional association. Free sexual counseling from the 5th grade is also offered in schools for people with learning disabilities.