Instructions: After thinking about the value statement, click on it for a brief explanation.
- They fear that talking about sexuality will encourage youth to experiment.
- They are not sure what youth need to know.
- They are not sure how to adapt the information to fit the cognitive level of the person they care for.
- Service providers may be worried that parents will feel these conversations are inappropriate (McCabe and Holmes, 2013).
Talking to other parents and service providers may help you to feel more comfortable, certain and supported.
Many youth with disabilities will go on to have fully consenting sexual relationships and some studies found that they were more sexually active than their non-disabled peers (East and Orchard, 2013).
There is a contradiction for people living with a disability and need help with personal care. On the one hand personal care involves allowing parents and carers to help with intimate care. On the other hand, youth are told that their sexuality is private (e.g., don’t talk about sex, don’t ask questions).
Definitions of sex are personal and include far more than the physical. Sex includes thoughts, feelings, attraction, sharing, being liked by others and how to give and receive affection (Esmail, Krupa, MacNeill, & Mackenzie, 2010).
Sexuality may not be a priority for families who feel frustrated that they must focus on their child’s major health problem or issue (McCabe and Holmes, 2013). However, children and youth who do not receive sexuality education that is inclusive to their needs, are at risk for abuse, sexual exploitation, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, social isolation, and lower quality of life (Public Health Agency of Canada [PHAC], 2013).
Talking about sexuality and disability with youth helps them to develop healthy boundaries, build skills and stay safe.
- Social skills.
- Negotiating relationships.
- Decision-making and assertiveness.
- Following social rules.
- Coping with feelings and emotions.
East, L. J., & Orchard, T. R. (2014). Somebody else’s job: Experiences of sex education among health professionals, parents and adolescents with physical disabilities in Southwestern Ontario. Sexuality and Disability, 32(3), 335-350.
Esmail, S., Krupa, C., MacNeill, D., & MacKenzie, S. (2010). Best-practice: Sexuality education for children and youth with physical disabilities-developing a curriculum based on lived experiences. Retrieved from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/ccl/best_practice/best_practice.pdf
McCabe, J., & Holmes, D. (2014). Nursing, sexual health and youth with disabilities: A critical ethnography. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(1), 77-86.
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). (2013). Questions & Answers: Sexual health education for youth with physical disabilities. Retrieved from http://librarypdf.catie.ca/pdf/ATI-20000s/26289_B_ENG.pdf
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN). (2010). Sexual health education in the schools: Questions & Answers (3rd ed.). Retrieved November 24, 2010, from http://www.sieccan.org/pdf/she_q&a_3rd.pdf