The Importance of Sexual Health to Individuals with Disabilities
Speaking about sex can be a challenge in itself, and addressing this topic to people with disabilities can definitely be a sensitive subject. When it comes to speaking about sex, both parents and educators have essential roles in fostering sexual literacy in their children and students.
Parents often play the primary role in imparting to their children social, cultural and religious values regarding intimate and sexual relationships. Whereas health and education professionals play a primary role in providing information about sexuality and developing related social skills. Both roles are necessary for full education.
When sexuality involves those living with a disability there is a certain taboo, because in general society does not look at people with disabilities as sexual. Instead, many are viewed as children, in need of protection. Society often sees the disability first.
That said, young people with disabilities are no different from other kids in their need to understand their bodies and relationships; they too need to understand how their bodies work, and they too may have romantic interests and sexual urges.
It is essential that people with disabilities receive as much knowledge and opportunities to express their emotional and physical needs as other students. Furthermore, part of staying healthy is seeking appropriate health care. Many misconceptions have to be broken when it comes to people with disabilities, and so when the topic of sex is addressed to them, it then reinforces that they can have the same questions, insecurities, and needs as their non disabled peers.
Here are a common misconception: sexuality does not only mean sexual activities. Sexuality is also about identity and be able to explore their own sexual orientation, reproductive choices and options, understanding STI’s, and examining their self-image, self-esteem, feelings, attitudes, and values.
Discussing body image is also another aspect that needs to be part of the curriculum of sex education. Today many teens identify with what they see in the media, on TV and on the internet. Many of the images they see on these platforms are far from being realistic.
Here are some other reasons why sexuality education is essential:
• Comprehensive sex education helps delay the age of first sex.
• Sex education does not encourage teenagers to have sex, it does quite the opposite.
• Parents tend to be awkward at teaching kids how to use contraception and need help from trained professionals.
• Values about sex can be taught at home, but facts can be taught at school.
Teaching sexuality education to individuals with disabilities is even more important because it is reported that women with disabilities are 40 % more likely to experience intimate partner violence compared to non-disabled women. It is also widely understood that individuals with difference are at much greater risk for risk for assault overall. Many individuals with disabilities are taught to be trusting of others, especially those who disguise themselves as wanting to help, and thus increase the vulnerability to predators in this group.
Understanding the definition of consent should also be taught at a young age because many people with disabilities struggle with a multitude of power dynamics with their caretakers, and peers. When it comes to intimate relationships, there should be a clear understanding of how to give and receive consent. There must also be permission and rehearsals on how to say no.
Despite the strong evidence for the benefits of teaching sexuality education, many individuals with special needs continue not to receive instruction in this area. If you omit to teach sex ed to people with disabilities, you are continuing to enforce the stereotypes that those living with disabilities have no interest in this matter and do not need information. The reality is that most have the same interests and desires as anyone who is not disabled.
The Sex Ed mart was created to help teachers and parents teach these subjects to individuals with differences. From safety to love, self-touch to crushes… Sex Ed Mart has all the materials in adapted formats to teach all students.
For more information, please visit www.sexedmart.com Sex education is important component to overall health as it helps to protect individuals, teach clear boundaries, empower healthy choices, and an enhanced quality one’s of life. This is something all should have access to.