Teaching Condom Use to an Audience With Special Needs

By Lizbeth Cruz and Melissa Keyes DiGioia


By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

1. Identify two examples of when a condom is unsafe for use.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of how to check that a condom is safe for use.

3. Name three ways a condom can be used safely.


Condom availability at local pharmacies, groceries and health centers, as well as high rate of contraceptive effectiveness, make the condom a desirable prevention option for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since the effectiveness of the condom is largely impacted by the user, individuals need vital information about correct condom application and behaviors that can contribute to user error. Unfortunately, lessons addressing safer sex designed specifically for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are in short supply.

This lesson is geared for moderate- to high-functioning individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Participants will practice visual and tactile skills designed to personalize behaviors that contribute to user success. Additionally, they will review and apply basic information about behaviors that contribute to user error. Repetition, review and practice are all incorporated within the lesson in order for participants to master correct and consistent condom use.

Note: This lesson solely addresses male condom usage. It is important that participants learn about sexual anatomy prior to this lesson. Lesson plans about sexual anatomy and privacy can be found in The Family Life and Sexual Health Curriculum special education series. Information about the lesson series can be found on the Educator Resource: Safer Sex Resources for Special Needs Audiences. Educators are strongly encouraged to modify the teaching techniques to best meet the needs of the group.

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