The Bottom Line
By Leslie Walker-Hirsch; 298 pages. Subtitle: Sexuality and Intimacy for People With Intellectual Disabilities.
What sort of life do you see for your child with intellectual disabilities? If it involves lifelong chastity and childishness, the authors of the essays in this book want you to know that you're probably dreaming. They argue -- on behalf of people with disabilities, and against well-meaning families and staff who think otherwise -- that sexuality is a part of life that should not be denied, and that denial will be circumvented in dangerous ways.
- Deals with a subject parents need to be thinking of.
- Examines sexuality from a disability rights perspective.
- Though written mostly for professionals, writing is engaging and easy to read.
- Case studies throughout provide good examples of problems and challenges.
- Has respect for the complexity of the issue for families.
- This is more a "think" book than a "do" book for parents.
- Many of the essays deal with institutional issues that don't directly concern parents.
- The idea of a full sexual life for your child may be a little overwhelming.
- Chapter 1: Sexuality Education and Intellectual Disability Across the Lifespan
- Chapter 2: Six Key Components of a Meaningful, Comprehensive Sexuality Education
- Chapter 3: Foundations in Social Development Education and Sexuality Education Techniques
- Chapter 4: A Parent's Perspective
Chapter 5: Social Support Systems for Quality Service Delivery
- Chapter 6: In Their Own Words
Chapter 7: Cultural Diversity, Sexuality Education, and Intellectual Disability
- Chapter 8: Supporting Diversity in Sexual Relationships
Chapter 9: Consent to Sexual Activity
- Chapter 10: Managing the Risks Associated With Sexual Activity
- Chapter 11: OB-GYN Care for Females With Intellectual Disabilities
- Chapter 12: Helping Individuals Recover From Sexual Abuse
- Chapter 13: Sexuality and Mental Health
Guide Review - Book Review: The Facts of Life ... and More
'Fess up: When you read those articles about teenage sex, the ones that say teens are going to do it whether we like it or not, and parents should make sure they're protected, do you secretly say, "Well, thank goodness, at least I'm not going to have to deal with that." When there are so many issues surrounding our kids, so many things that keep them developmentally behind their peers, it can be impossible to conceive of them as ever being randy adolescents or adults who will desire sexual activity.
The authors of the 13 essays that make up The Facts of Life ... and More, though, urge parents and others working with people with disabilities to conceive of just that, lest other unwanted conceiving occurs. They argue that sexual interests often start up right on time even in kids who are delayed everywhere else, and as with all those teen-sex articles, those who are not prepared will engage in dangerous behavior.
Even if you're right and your child never has any interest in physical intimacy, being ignorant of that part of life sets him or her up for abuse and misunderstandings. The book is full of anecdotal tales of young women being taken advantage of because they didn't understand the rights and wrongs of sex, and young men innocently doing things that the general public finds not so innocent. You may not be able to imagine your son wanting a sexual relationship, but if you can imagine him touching a woman in the wrong place or saying something provocative, then it's time to have a talk. "The" talk.
There's some information here about what needs to be a part of that discussion, and an interesting look at how "special" education works in this area. There's also some food for thought about how an intimate relationship might be part of your child's future. Turns out it's not so inconceivable after all.