Class Gives Girls WIth Special Needs Information On Growing Up


TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - It can be tough for parents to start that talk with their pre-teens about the changes their bodies are about to experience.

For years, Stormont-Vail has offered the "From Girl to Woman" class to make it easier. Now, for the first time, they're offering a session specifically targeted to girls with special needs.

Anne Martinez wants her 12-year-old daughter, Grace, who has Down's Syndrome, to get accurate information and understands it. While Grace is used to a classroom setting, Anne says, she does need information presented in a way that is simplified, perhaps slowed down, and is reviewed to make sure she's retaining it.

Those considerations are why Kathryn Schartz, RN, an assistant professor at Baker University, worked with two of her students in developing a girl to women curriculum targeted to girls with special needs and their mothers.

19-year-old Sarah Schaffer, who also has Down's Syndrome, will play a key role in assisting Baker nursing students as a teacher and mentor to the younger girls. She says she will be able to help them because she knows the challenges they face.

While much of the core information doesn't change, Schartz says there is one area that does deserve extra attention. She says sometimes children with special needs spend a lot of time with helpers around them and don't get the same cues other people get in terms of personal space and boundaries, so they need to teach issues regarding inappropriate touching a little differently for them.

Armed with the information, Anne says she confident her daughter and other girls with special needs will successfully navigate into their teens and beyond.

The goal is to offer the class twice a year. The first session is 9 to 11 am Saturday, April 26th, at Stormont's Pozez Education Center. Cost is $25 for each parent / child pair. Call 785-354-5225 to register.


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