Sexuality and Romance in Individuals with Down Syndrome: Assessing the Relationship Between Parental Attitudes, Sexual Knowledge, and Experiences with Romance
- Author(s): Greenwood, Jessica Ann
- Advisor(s): Bocian, Maureen
- et al.
The goal of this study is to explore factors associated with sexuality in children with Down Syndrome (DS), including demographic factors related to both parent and child (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.), child’s knowledge of and experiences with sexuality, and attitudes of the parents. The study further investigates factors that are associated with parental attitudes, indicated by willingness to permit the child to be alone with a romantic partner. The hypothesis tested is that the child’s age, gender, and developmental level, in addition to parental attitudes and concerns, are related to mothers’ willingness to allow the child to be alone with a partner. Data are analyzed using multivariate logistic regression. The results show that age and developmental level, but not gender, are statistically significantly associated with parental permissiveness. Additional factors impacting permissiveness include knowledge about sexuality, understanding of consent, and the specific source of sexual education. Understanding further the factors influencing and influenced by intimacy is vital in the effort to support autonomy for individuals with DS. Gaining insight into—and assessing the interplay of—these variables has the potential to influence advocacy for sexual independence among individuals with DS. This is the first study of its kind to look at sexuality in a broad age group and with a fine level of detail. We aspire to add to the currently limited depth of knowledge regarding this topic with hope that the results from this study may potentially lead to greater awareness of the importance of sexuality for individuals with DS.