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Down Syndrome and Puberty
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Down Syndrome and Puberty

My younger son is a wondefrul boy of 13 with DS. His speech and school work is at the age 6-7 level.

Our current issue is a little awkward. For the past six weeks, he has what seems to be dried semen in his pjs in the morning. This is now an every day occurence. I feel like I have to get him cleaned up before he goes to school, and it adds time to the routine. I also worry that his private parts look a little red and swollen. I don't know what he's doing to get himself so messy, but he is alone in his room at night. I'm a single mom.

Is this a phase? How long does it last? He is just two months past his 13th birthday, is it normal at such a young age? Should I change what he wears at night?

Thanks for any advice. It's kind of a tough topic for me.
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Avatar m tn
At your son's age, it is not uncommon for his testis to produce an abundance of sperm and semen on a daily basis. Young guys are somtimes overwhelm with the sexual tension produced by the average daily supply of sperm and semen, and must masturbate two to three times a day. Nighttime "wet dreams" are normal. The best advice would come from an Urologist about his wet dreams and what to expect in the future. Perhaps you can call the Urology Department of a medical center and inquire without your son being present.

1227139 tn?1462338230
Hello DeborahLarsen,

Welcome to our Community!  First I wanted to say it's wonderful to have you in our community and its so nice to meet another parent who has a child with Ds as well.

To answer your question (just as the above posted commented) it is definitely "normal" at the age of 13 to have the semen or ejaculate occur during his sleep.  The above poster is correct, it is called having a "wet dream" as far as terminology is concerned.  Whether Down syndrome or not, most everyone at the age of 13 is going through the stage of puberty and as a result the body is surging with hormones during this time.  This is the correct time as puberty can begin from preteen age years and it is inevitable.  Also despite his age level or delay, his hormones and body are at the age of a 13 year old.  Long before 13 however, children are curious about their bodies and may start to touch or experiment with self pleasure.  Children do conclude at early ages that touching themselves can feel good and even if it isn't about self pleasure, the feeling can be calming or comforting.  This is why doctors remind us why we never scold or punish a child for discovering, touching or masturbating.  At this stage it sounds like you do not have any issues with anything occurring in public but if it were to happen, a reminder that touching is okay so long as it is done in private and not outside his own room, bathroom or home.

For your concern, if it is happening while he is sleeping, he may definitely be having "Wet dreams" where a dream itself can and will cause ejaculation without his physical touch, simply from dreaming alone.  If I remember my health lessons, the dreams do not have to be sexual in nature either.  Clothes rubbing can easily cause the ejaculation.  During puberty, the body is very sensitive and this is very common.  Many books and literature on puberty suggest (to help with what can be embarrassing for either child or parent) is (after an occurrence) to show your son how to help get cleaned up and help to put soiled clothes into the hamper or washing machine.  Never should the child be made to feel as though he should be ashamed or that the Ejaculate is a problem or something bad.  He should be reassured that it is a normal part of puberty that all boys do go through.  And that eventually it will not occur in this manner or as frequently as time goes on.

The fact is, puberty more appropriately and accurately would be a stage of development as opposed to a phase.  A phase would suggest something that he is doing either by choice or actions of control or voluntarily.  Puberty is something that happens to us all physically and involuntarily and is when our bodies prepare for maturity.  I gather (like all of us) your concern is that it is happening at his age, but his cognitive age doesn't match his physical age.  Also, I completely understand that it is a hard topic for you, and you are not alone.  I have some great resources for you to take a look at that might give you some other suggestions on how to handle the situation, especially involving Down syndrome.  Obviously there isn't an abundant amount of material out there that have our children in mind when it comes to puberty.

I am not sure of where you are located, but coming next month (here in Ontario Canada October 15-17) is a Down sydnrome Conference - in Niagara Falls.  One of the seminar topics is Down syndrome and Sexuality.  I believe it covers everything from the small child, puberty, teen ages and adults.  I myself can't wait to see the information.  If there is anything I can find out for you, if you are far and can not attend, please do let me know.  I would be happy to see if I can find out anything that you are curious about.  I will be taking all kinds of notes because I have many Mom's who have questions and can't attend because of their locations or the cost.  (I do have a booth while at the conference also, because I have written a few books that are Ds related).

Here is the link that I am hoping will be helpful in the mean time:
It is pretty general, but it has a list of resource information at the end of the article.  The whole website (Ds-health) is very essential for parents who have children with Ds.  I have found it extremely helpful.  

Something else I came across (as an author) is this book from Woodbine house:
Definitely a perfect book for your questions.

This link is all around a great site for information on all aspects and ages:

I hope that this gives you some peace of mind, and I would not really change his sleep wear unless you feel that he might be really hurting his penis or perhaps worried about the possibility of getting an infection if he is tearing the skin from rubbing too hard.  (One of the sites does mention that sometimes masturbation can be a form of self mutilation or infliction of pain so you must watch out and ensure that he isn't harming or hurting himself.)
If there is anything else I can help with specifically, or questions that you might want me to find out for you at this upcoming conference, please do let me know.  I am happy to help and provide any resources I can for you.

I hope that we can get to know one another also, so feel free to message me directly at any time!  Often, messaging me directly is the best way to get me right away.  

Just another thought, on the flip side to the conference (if you couldn't attend) and depending on where you lived, I have a parent/child group that meets to discuss things just like this!  Kind of the reality version of a MH forum!  A place where you can ask questions, learn interesting things, meet and interact while your child plays or learns.  If you live in Canada, this would be great for you!  I can only hope you live close, but if not, perhaps they have a group like this where you are.  I am sure you can let me know if you do message me back.

In addition to anything I have mentioned, please keep in mind, that while I or others may have extensive knowledge in many areas, you should always seek professional medical advice from your own physician, as it pertains to medical conditions or concerns.

Good luck, and if you have any other questions that I can help you with, please feel free to message me directly.

Sandi (Dragon1973)
MedHelp Genetics Community Leader;
Children - Special Needs Community Leader;
Down syndrome Community Leader & Ds Group Forum Founder/Moderator
Avatar f tn
I want to thank people who have sent all these words of advice.

We went to the doctor today and I was totally wrong about what I thought was happening. He has balanoposthitis which is related to high blood sugar. It's like a yeast infection. I can't believe I let this go on for a month without showing it to his doctor. It's suposed to clear up in just a few days with a prescription creme and washing with clear water.

As for the other theories, he may start having "wet dreams" soon but having them every day would be very unusual. She doesn't think those will cause inflamation (inflammation) like this either, they're apparently quite harmless.

God bless you all.
Avatar f tn
Hello I am from guatemala city and have a son with ds, he is 13 years 8 months
since one month and a half ago he has changed, he is not my samuel anymore, i am so sad he started hitting himself, scratching himself, throwing things, hitting others,  so one day there were 5 people holding him, and they couldnt calm him, he is so strong, so we took him to the hospital.  He stayed there one week until all exams were done, we got the results and are very normal.
Is this happening because of his puberty and how long do you think this will last?
He is now taking lamictal and risperdal since two weeks ago, but he has been depressed since and he wants just to sleep, please help me with some advice i am very confused, really,he is not sweet anymore sometines i am afraid of him, to go near him.  My husband is taking care of him all day and night long.  
thank you my name is zulay, samuel s mother
6780335 tn?1384733664
yep, he has started to get wet dreams..totally normal..

soon he will start to masturbate.. again normal
Avatar f tn
My grandson has just turned 7 and he calls it horsey rides but I dont think at this age he should be this active He humps everything and when you try to tell him it is not appropriate to do it to people he gets aggresive (aggressive)
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