1. Sexuality and Sex Education for
Young Adults with Disabilities
PROVIDED BY MICHELLE UETZ
TRANSITION COORDINATOR FOR RIVER FALLS
WISCONSIN TEACHER LICENSES IN SECONDARY
BIOLOGY, HEALTH AND SPECIAL EDUCATION
To make you uncomfortable enough to change your
thinking, but not so uncomfortable that you can’t handle
Give you tools, information and knowledge to be able to
effectively handle sexual concerns and/or situations.
Make you more aware of the anatomical and
physiological functioning of people with disabilities in
regard to sexuality.
3. Wiggle & Squirm
Why does talking about sex and sexuality make us so
It has been made a taboo topic to discuss by parents, media, society
We have been taught nick names for our reproductive parts since we
Values and morals are part of sex and sexuality.
It has been made into a dirty, and negative thing by media, society
and some religions.
These are the same reasons that people with disabilities are scared or
unable to deal with their feeling appropriately, or ask questions
4. Getting Comfortable
Research has shown time and time again that sex education
does not create sexual behaviors.
It’s important to get comfortable enough to talk about sexual
Students/Clients will know if you are uncomfortable
They will not feel comfortable talking to you about the issue.
They will not be able to be honest with you.
If you are comfortable enough (doesn’t mean you have to want
to hear every detail of their sex lives)
Talk to you about problems
Ask for your help
5. Problems from NOT Talking About “It”
If young adults with disabilities are not taught about sex
and sexuality and have no one to talk to about it
problems can arise
To Disabled Adult
From Disabled Adult
Inappropriate Social Expression and Behavior
Incarceration of Adult with Disabilities
6. More Problems
People with disabilities are at a greater risk for being sexually abused.
Unable to identify it, can cause other health problems
Is the person physically able to carry a baby
Is the couple able to physically and mentally take care of the baby
Emotional maturity does not always match physical maturity
Without knowledge and practice about what to do about their feelings, inappropriate
Many articles about cognitively disabled sex offenders
Research about abuse against people with disabilities is
difficult to discern because of the varying definitions and data
used in the research (Elman, 2005).
An early study of women with a variety of disabilities
estimated this population to be one and a half times as likely
to have been sexually abused as their counterparts without
disabilities (Elman, 2005).
When researchers focused on people with cognitive
disabilities, they found rates of sexual victimization ranged
from four to 10 times higher than for those without them
8. Be Pro-Active
One of the best ways to discuss risks without scaring people is
to take pro-active measures such as sex education (Elman,
Sex education classes are used to offer and encourage
education and respect for people’s choices around sex.
However, these courses tend to be offered in environments
less accessible to those with disabilities (Elman, 2005).
In addition, the lack of information on sexuality and people
with disabilities makes this education even more difficult
9. Disability and Sexuality
All human beings are social and sexual from the day they are born (Social
and Sexual Issues During Transition, 2007)
People often mistakenly believe that people with disabilities are
asexual….however, they are human and thus are sexual beings. (Chance,
Sexuality is controlled by hormones.
It is as innate as breathing or your heart beating
Even when an adult’s brain functions at the level of a child, their body is
still functioning at the same level as their actual age.
When the body develops physically the brain and maturity may not develop
at the same rate.
10. Sullivan and Caterino Study (Sullivan, 2008)
75% of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) display
some kind of sexual behavior and most masturbate.
As many as 16-25% of people with ASD have been sexually
65% of people with ASD touch themselves in public, 23%
masturbate in public, and 28% remove their clothing in public.
Clearly, impairments do not negate sexuality and the desires or
behaviors of it.
11. Anatomy & Physiology
The brain and intellectual functioning of adults with
disabilities is disabled.
HOWEVER, their bodies still function and develop just as a nondisabled
People with disabilities still go through puberty, although, it
may come a little later than their peers, since their maturity
Women with disabilities still menstruate, develop breasts and
are able to become pregnant.
Men with disabilities still get erections, produce sperm,
masturbate, and can impregnate a woman.
12. Sex and Sexuality
“Sexuality is an integral part of what it is to be a human being.”
In the past when sexual behavior and interest came from people with
disabilities they were looked at negatively because of the social
difficulties and stereotypes related to these disabilities (Sullivan,
Think about your own experiences?
Were your actions, changes and feelings during puberty controllable,
Did they help shape you into who you are?
Did gaining sexuality give you independence and control of yourself?
Sexuality is a part of our identity
A large part of growing up is independence,
including what one does with their own body…adults
with disabilities are not exempt from this.
Every person deserves as much independence as
Can create conflict between parents and young adult,
caregivers and teachers.
Children learn by imitating what they see. This is often from
Parents want to protect their children and may not
understand the damage that it can do.
Parents should be included in any issues that are occurring
regarding their child and his/her sexuality.
Parents need support and education to deal with their
disabled child’s sexuality.
Parents want their children to follow their morals and values.
Whether teachers and caregivers agree or disagree they need to respect
15. Why Teach Sex Ed to Disabled People?
With open discussion, comes understanding of values
and social aspects of sexuality.
Helps people to deal with their feelings in a healthy and
Talking about sex does not create sexual feelings, all
people have those feelings already. It provides
Disabled people have sexual feelings, but are less
equipped to handle them.
16. Step 1: Teach and Use Correct Names
Practice it yourself so that you can use proper names also.
If there are problems or abuse, the person needs to be able to
accurately report the problem or abuse.
Correct terminology is needed so that the Dr. understands
what is being reported.
Nicknames can prolong reporting and help.
It is important to know correct names for both genders.
17. Step 2: Teach and Talk About Acceptable Social Behavior
Learning about sexuality provides social skills.
Peer Refusal skills
Learning about sexuality provides values.
Provides understanding of family, religious, and social values
Learning about sexuality provides responsibility.
18. Social Skills
It is important to acknowledge sexual feelings and
development and then teach and reinforce important
decisions regarding sexual behavior:
Appropriate public behavior
Behavior to be practiced in private
Appropriate time and place
Not in public, not constant, public displays of affection
19. Step 3: Teach Sex Ed to People with Disabilities
Even if good sex ed was taught at school, people with
disabilities need reminders and continual education
because they forget, or can’t transfer the information.
Practice, Practice, Practice….the social skills. Role-play
is a good way to do this. Provide community experiences
for social skills whenever possible.
Sex ed needs to include feelings, value, attitudes,
information, and communication skills (Social and
Sexual Issues During Transition, 2007).
20. Step 4: Be Open and Honest
You don’t need to share personal stories or experiences
You do need to be open and honest about issues and
when answering questions
Susceptibility to abuse because of disability
21. Special Considerations
Very black and white, need clear rules. Need a lot of social skill practice to have a
They do not have the socialization and understanding of social norms as a typical
peer would to be able to govern their sexual behaviors (Sullivan, 2008)
Many people that are non-verbal understand. Therefore, it is important to
develop signs with them to express themselves in regard to sexuality.
Is a pregnancy healthy for the woman?
Is there enough cognitive function to raise a child?
Don’t just believe me, I have some information to back
this stuff up.
Chance, R. S. (2002). To Love an Be Loved: Sexuality and People
with Physical Disabilities. Journal of Psychology and Theology ,
30 (3), 195-208.
Social and Sexual Issues During Transition. (2007). Retrieved 11
23, 2010, from National Association of Special Education
Teachers : http://www.naset.org/socsexualissues2.0.html#
Sullivan, A. a. (2008). Addressing the Sexuality and Sex
Education of Individuals with Autism SPectrum Disorders.
Education and Treatment of Children , 31 (3), 381-394.
24. More Resources
Elman, R. A. (2005, 01). Confronting the Sexual
Abuse of Women with Disabilities. Retrieved 01 15,
2012, from ARC of Greater Twin Cities:
Hinweis der Redaktion
Students/Clients will know if you are uncomfortable: They will not feel comfortable talking to you about the issue. They will not be able to be honest with you.They may lose respect for youStudents/Clients Clients will:Talk to you about problemsAsk for your helpRespect you more
Some STIs create many more problems than just sexually. Some lead to death, others to long-term illness.
No one wants a loved-one to suffer any kind of abuse. Therefore, just know that the statistics are higher, even if we can’t pin point them exactly.
Protecting is innate to parents. However, if we protect too much our children are not allowed to grow and learn.