Disability and Sexual Intimacy

ILC OT showing a sexual aid to a lady who uses a wheelchairDisability and sexuality is not a subject that is at the top of the list of the enquiries we receive at ILC in Nedlands or at ILC Cockburn. Talking to Occupational Therapist colleagues and Carers it seems that the subject can be perceived as a taboo subject or sometimes it can be the white elephant in the room, it’s there but who mentions it? Should it be mentioned? Who should mention it first?

Being comfortable with the subject matter is not always a given.  Despite the sexual freedom and the ensuing liberalised attitudes that allegedly came during the swinging sixties, sexual intimacy is predominately portrayed in mainstream images as an activity exclusively for young, non disabled people. Ignoring and potentially stigmatising sexual relationships outside of this population.

So Googling around for some articles and blogs on the subject it was refreshing to come across Rose and Tim’s story, “Surprise! Disabled People Have Sex!”

Tim sitting in his power wheelchair with Rose who is standing on the side of it and leaning in to give him a kissRose and Tim’s story highlights the need to normalise the conversation around disability and sexuality, empowering people with the confidence to discuss the subject matter. While Rose and Tim’s story is illustrative of issues couples may come across in fulfilling their sexual needs, it does expose a gap of information, sexual pleasure without a partner. The use of sexual aids again is an area that is very seldom discussed, especially if it involves a non-intimate partner assisting.

Two recent free information sessions at the ILC Cockburn created the opportunity to raise awareness of disability and sexuality, opening the opportunity for discussion and the chance to discover some of the equipment available to help people achieve sexual fulfillment.

Feedback from some of the attendee’s included; (the information sessions) “Greatly increased my awareness of the products and equipment available for individuals sexuality needs.”It is encouraging to know that the information will be taken forward and used to help promote disability and sexuality awareness; “Good knowledge to have (I am an OT student)”, encouraging people to feel confident in discussing their sexual needs, or anothers.

Some of the items displayed and discussed at the recent information session are shown below, they and other sexual aids are listed on NED (National Equipment Database).

Image of a Health prosutres intimate rider and rider mate

Health Postures Intimate Rider and Rider Mate

Image of a Tenga flip holeImage of a purple Massagers

Tenga Flip Hole                      Palm sized massagers

A more in depth Sexual Intimacy Workshop is planned later this year which will give people the opportunity to expand their knowledge and promote thought, discussion and action to approach sexual needs in their daily practice. If you would like to receive information about this workshop or other events organised by the ILC please join our mailing list.

Further reading links:

Upcoming workshop:

4 Responses

  1. Helen Bates-Wilson says:

    Hi, I would love some information regarding your workshop, unfortunately I am in Queensland so unable to attend, I have been wanting to hold something similar here in Townsville, so any information you think might be useful would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  2. Marg Cunningham says:

    My son lives in a group home – all (12) participants are between late 20’s and late 30’s.
    I feel it is very important to have these discussions with these young people – to inform and educate.
    I believe some have attended basic sex education classes but would really appreciate more information.
    kind regards,

    • Gail Stacey says:

      Hi Marg, thank you very much for your enquiry and interest in this topic. One of our Occupational Therapists will contact you regarding your request.

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