Puberty Class Offerings, Down Syndrome Community of Puget Sound
Teens and tweens with intellectual disabilities 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.
The Understanding Adolescence and Puberty program is based on books by Terri Couwenhoven, MS, who specializes in the design and implementation of sexuality programs and resources for people with intellectual disabilities and their parents who support them. The class is led by Rebecca Partridge, MD, head of the Down Syndrome Program at Virginia Mason, and Beth Olenchek, a health educator at Virginia Mason. They are joined by two co-teachers, each of whom has Down syndrome.
COURSE INFO: This seven-class course meets once a week on Saturdays. Classes will be held online via Zoom. There is no class on February 13.
FOR PARENTS & CAREGIVERS: The program will begin with a one-hour online session providing an overview of what parents and caregivers can expect from the classes.
FOR STUDENTS: For the remaining six classes, students will participate in gender-specific 30-minute online sessions. Topics for the weekly sessions are the same for both girls and boys but include gender-specific details. Themes include body basics, hygiene, and safety. The classes are experience-based with specific activities to engage students with the session content.
MATERIALS & RESOURCES: Each family will receive two books that focus on teaching children with intellectual disabilities about their bodies, boundaries, and sexuality. Additional take-home materials will be sent to parents and caregivers each week.