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We have collected your questions on sex and disability, and are delighted to have Arlene Jane Tinga to answer them below.
Does having a disability impacts one to enjoy sex fully?
Before I answer the question, I have to state that although we have the dictionary definition of sex, sex can still be defined in many ways depending on the individual, books, country, and even culture that you ask. So, can having a disability impact the full enjoyment of sex? The answer is, it all depends on the individual.
When it comes to sex for individuals with a disability, sex is something that is usually not discussed or even given any thought to. Although, this does not mean that individuals with a disability do not have sex. Depending on the disability of the individual, sex can mean something entirely different from the typical definition of sex and thus what many people perceive or consider as enjoying sex fully, may not always be the same for an individual with a disability.
Thus, having a disability does not necessarily impact the enjoyment of sex, but rather creates new ways of enjoyment for sex.
Are people with disabilities at higher risk of sexual abuse?
Yes, many individuals with a disability are at higher risks of becoming victims of sexual abuse. Yet, individuals with a developmental and intellectual disability are even more at high risk of becoming sexual abuse victims due to their inabilities to comprehend certain situations.
What are some misconceptions about sexuality and disability?
Many people tend to perceive individuals with a disability as not being typical, thus not associating the individuals to sex, sexuality, or any topic revolving around sex and sexuality. For individuals with a developmental disability, such as those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), many people perceive these individuals as being childlike and asexual. For individuals that have a physical disability, many people perceive that those individuals are not physically able to have sex.
Also, people assume that if you have a disability, the thought or topic of sex and sexuality is taken off the table.
How can society change the mindset towards these misconceptions?
Society’s misconceptions and perceptions towards individuals and sexuality can change if society were to be educated on sex, sexuality and disability. Due to people not being educated or knowledgeable about sex and sexuality when it comes to individuals with disabilities, these individuals are misunderstood and their experiences in life are looked upon completely differently than the experiences of typical developing individuals.
Arlene-Jane (Arlene) Tinga has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Women Studies from University of California Riverside. Her Senior Thesis research was; Masturbation: More Taboo for Women Than Men. She has been working with the developmental disabilities community since 2006 and is a member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.
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