Is there any theory on sexual development of people with learning difficulties? — Scope | Disability forum
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Is there any theory on sexual development of people with learning difficulties?

Quasi Member Posts: 3
This discussion was created from comments split from: Hi, I'm Gill, I'm a full-time PSHE Specialist.


  • Quasi
    Quasi Member Posts: 3
    Hi, I'm a care worker in a residential school and I'm often wondering about the legal duties and boundries around sex education.
    I often think: "are we doing enough to support the development of the people we work with?" and "to what extent are we allowed to interfear with their relationships, sexual identity, teaching of social norms, ..." as you will be aware this toppic makes many "professionals" uncomfortable. Many also fear to act in conflict with the law as the legal situation is unclear to them (including me) many people I work with are under 24 hour supervision and can’t independently research or learn from peers. I'm not allowed to provide or encourage any sexual material.
    Could you advise me about the legal perspective of the situation? For instance how far is it allowed to interfere and were are the (legal) boundaries.
    Am I actually allowed to stop two people from seeing each other?

    Is there any theory on sexual development of people with learning difficulties? Any books that might help me? How can the development (especially regarding sexual identity) be as close to ‘normal’ as possible.

    This is a very sensitive topic especially as care worker…. Parents are much more free in this regard and ‘unregulated’.

    I hope you can help me there or at least point me in a direction ... There is shockingly little literature about this.
  • PSHEexpert
    PSHEexpert Member Posts: 170 Pioneering

    Firstly sorry for the delayed response - for some reason notifications have not been coming through to my email at work.

    The first thing I would like to direct you to is by Fanstone and Andrews and is called Learning Disabilities, Sex and the Law. It's published by the FPA and is incredibly useful as it uses case studies and scenarios - really helpful. The short answer is that we aren't really allowed to interfere with peoples' relationships, development and so on. There are two key points:

    1. Legislation states that it's our duty of care to provide the requisite information for people with learning disabilities to ensure that they are safeguarded appropriately in a format that they can understand. This should be evidence-based and factual.

    2. It should be considered that everyone has the capacity to consent to sexual and romantic relationships unless it is proven that they cannot (please refer to the book I mention above) - what it is important to consider is that we cannot make the decision about whether someone has capacity or not in isolation and it would inappropriate to do so in this context.

    I do a lot of training and development work and support around this for professionals and would be happy to discuss any specifics with you if that would be helpful?

    As you can appreciate it's not appropriate for me to comment in a public forum on hypothetical client situations however we could have a discussion maybe via Skype or email?

    [email protected] is my email address.

    Hope that's a LITTLE bit of help or at least a starting point - give me a shout!!

    - Gill 


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