At various times in your child’s life you may have to talk with your child’s daily care givers regarding her DSD. Talking about the DSD with your childcare providers and your child’s teachers will help to ensure your child’s emotional and physical safety. How much information you pass on may depend on your child’s age, whether or not your child has special needs, and what you and your child feel comfortable sharing. Remember that, as your child grows older, it is important for you to let her decide, as much as possible, how much others will know. It is important to your child to feel in control of his or her body and personal history. So you’ll need to listen to and respect your child’s wishes when it comes to talking with others.
If your child’s genitals look different from the average, or if she or he has surgical scars, when your child is in daycare, preschool, and early elementary school, it’s very important to provide some basic information to the care giver. This way the care giver understands what she is seeing when she helps the child change diapers or clothes. You don’t want to put your child in a position where a care giver is frightened or upset because she hasn’t been prepared.
The two statements listed below are examples of things you might say to start talking with a care provider or teacher. As in the first statement, some parents choose to give more information to early care givers and preschool teachers because they may see the child’s genitals when helping the child with toilet issues:
Again, we suggest following up the next day to ask again if there are any questions. This lets the care provider know it is okay to talk with you about this.
As children get older and handle bathroom issues on their own, some parents prefer only to pass along what the teacher has to know about their child’s special needs. If your child wants access to a private bathroom, you may want to say something like this:
Parent to elementary or middle school teacher
Jerome has a condition that requires him to have access to private bathroom facilities. Can you please arrange this and tell Jerome and me about the arrangements?
If you choose to not go into details about your child’s DSD and say something like the above statement, most teachers will not ask for any additional information. If one of the school personnel presses you for information by asking you what your child’s condition is, and you do not feel comfortable telling her, you can simply say that your child has a physical birth difference that requires him to have access to a private bathroom. Sometimes, this may need to be verified with a letter from your child’s physician. Ask your doctor to write a note that simply says the same thing you told the school personnel.
The only information teachers really need to know is what (if any) special accommodations your child needs when she is at school. Some parents decide to give specific information about their children’s DSDs while others choose to only address the special needs of their children. You will decide what works for you and your child, but remember it is important as your child grows to let her know what her teachers know, so that she is not put in the position of finding out critical information from someone other than you.
Junior high school is when many parents begin to allow their children to decide what, if anything, their teachers and/or school nurses will know about their DSDs. If your child is very much against giving others specific information about his DSD, it is a good idea to respect your child’s wishes. Junior high is when many children have to face the issue of whether to change in front of their peers (children of the same age) in a locker room for gym class. Locker rooms are becoming less common, since adults have realized they make many children uncomfortable, but some schools still do use locker rooms. If your child’s school has a locker room, your child may feel better changing in private. In this case, tell the gym teacher your child needs to have a private place to change, and back it up with a simple note from your child’s doctor saying the same thing, if necessary.
Many parents say that as you practice talking with your child’s care providers, it becomes easier and easier. If you experience challenges with your child’s daycare or school, try turning to other parents of older children with DSDs who have faced the same challenges. You may also try using the resources of a school social worker or clinic social worker.