Sexuality of Children and Adolescents With Developmental Disabilities

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Children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, like all children, are sexual persons. However, attention to their complex medical and functional issues often consumes time that might otherwise be invested in addressing the anatomic, physiologic, emotional, and social aspects of their developing sexuality. This report discusses issues of puberty, contraception, psychosexual development, sexual abuse, and sexuality education specific to children and adolescents with disabilities and their families. Pediatricians, in the context of the medical home, are encouraged to discuss issues of sexuality on a regular basis, ensure the privacy of each child and adolescent, promote self-care and social independence among persons with disabilities, advocate for appropriate sexuality education, and provide ongoing education for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities and their families.