Caregivers and professionals need to partner up to improve access to sex education for people with ID

By Roy McConkey
University of Ulster

Opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) to participate in relationships and sexuality education are often negatively affected by the attitudes and perceptions of family carers, front-line support workers, and professional staff.

What did you do in your research?
We talked with about 100 individuals in group or interview settings to understand how to reduce the barriers to relationships and sexuality education of people with ID. Participants included family carers, professionals, and frontline staff in Northern Ireland.

What did you find out?
Although there was agreement on the need for relationships and sexuality education, four barriers were commonly reported: the need to protect vulnerable persons, the lack of training (on sex and relationships), lack of educational resources, and cultural exclusion.

What are the take-home messages?
Barriers could be decreased through partnership working with family carers, professionals and frontline staff to provide training and information about relationships and sexuality education, development of risk management procedures, and finding ways to empower people with ID.

To learn more about these findings contact
Roy McConkey or check out Project Website.

Full Journal Article
Lafferty, A., McConkey, R., & Simpson, A. (2012). Reducing the Barriers to Relationships and Sexuality Education for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities 16(1), 29-43.


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