Practice Issues in Sexuality and Learning Disabilities

By Ann Craft | Go to book overview

9

A model clinic approach for the reproductive health care of persons with developmental disabilities

Thomas Elkins


INTRODUCTION

An interdisciplinary model clinic for the consideration of reproductive health, sexuality and socialisation concerns has been established now for several years at both the University of Tennessee and the University of Michigan in the United States. These were established in response to the unique set of reproductive health concerns that the population of those with mental handicap/developmental disabilities presents to the obstetrician/gynecologist. Such concerns were once considered to be limited to mental institutions. However, in a time of non- and de-institutionalisation, increased socialisation, increased community involvement and improved educational and medical prognosis, the health care problems of the adolescent and adult with mental disabilities will probably be encountered with increasing frequency by the community-based physician. The two model clinics were, therefore, established in an effort to provide a standard of care which could be replicated and taught to physicians attempting to provide care for these patients in community as well as university-based programmes.

Before the establishment of either clinic, discussions were held with parent support groups, health care providers and educational professionals concerning the best method to organise such a health care delivery system. Other similar clinic efforts had met with little success in the past because of a strong focus on family planning which emphasised the very controversial areas of sexuality, contraception and sterilisation (David et al. 1976). A more global clinic system that would offer gynaecological care in general, as well as a focus on socialisation and sexuality, was developed.

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