Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Debra Hanson


Down Syndrome; Sex Behavior; Sex Education -- methods; Sexuality


The purpose of the scholarly project was to develop a comprehensive sexuality communication tool for developmentally delayed individuals, facilitating problem identification, mutual goal setting, and development of a consistent approach to sexuality intervention across the home and school contexts. The Youth Sexuality Index (YSI) was developed following a thorough literature review of sexuality, sex education, developmental delays, and Down syndrome-related topics. Following the review of literature, the need was identified for a sexuality communication tool for individuals with developmental and cognitive delays. Healthy sexuality is necessary for one to develop self-esteem and experience meaningful relationships. However, lack of communication and mutual understanding may lead to misperceptions regarding a developmentally delayed child's sexuality (Murphy & Elias, 2006). Likewise, open and detailed discussion about sexuality may be hindered by discomfort by parents and children (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006).

The Youth Sexuality Index (YSI) product seeks to address this problem. The product is based on the Model of Human Occupation (Kielhofner, 2008) and the underlying assumptions of the Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) Theory (Katz, 2005). The YSI incorporates parent, child, and educator information into sexuality goal setting for children with developmental and cognitive delays. Each section of the YSI serves to provide necessary information to develop a comprehensive foundation on which to base the sexuality education process.