By Dr Tuppy Owens
Hello, I created this website to reach out to professionals around the world who may struggle to support their disabled clients in the ways that they would like. They may lack the confidence, thinking they don’t have the knowledge. They may feel unprepared to challenge the resistance of other staff. Members of staff or their senior staff, governors or trustees may disapprove, usually being nervous of the press finding out and the resulting scandal causing cancellation of funding. Sometimes parents or family object to clients supporting their disabled relative ((who they think of as a child) to be supported to enjoy sex. Professionals may simply not have time because it is not within their remit.
I have been working with disabled people and their care staff for many years and have been lucky enough to have the support of some crafty lawyers and other experts, so I have learned ways to advise people.
If your country has a law against the discrimination of disabled people, you can tell your work colleagues and others who are trying to stop you doing this important work, that it is illegal not to support your disabled clients to enjoy the same pleasures as other people enjoy in the privacy of their own homes.
This website is becoming interactive and you are welcome to send questions in, once you have joined. And I encourage you to create local groups where you can support each other. Our SHADA members in the UK treasure our meetings. A friend of mine once attended and told me afterwards that she had never been in a meeting and seen such enthusiasm for the subject.
Here are the things I have dealt with in the past:-
Usually they sign an agreement for the disabled individual to be in the care home / college and you need to include support with personal pleasure in that contract. Then when they object, you can point this out to them.
STAFF ARE UNEASY
Ask a GP or medical doctor to prescribe this course of action.
THE BUYING OF SEXUAL SERVICES IS ILLEGAL IN MY COUNTRY
Double check this is correct. If it is, then consider suggesting a disabled client who wants to hire one that they travel to another country.
Lots of disabled men in Scotland, England and Wales still go to Amsterdam thinking it is necessary, despite us having great legal sex workers. Sadly Northern Ireland banned the buying of sex, but there is a strong campaign to get that overturned. Describing the needs of disabled people is a great argument against this stupid legislation. The Swedes made the law first, and are now promoting it around the world, even though academic proof that it leaves both the providers and their clients more vulnerable. You too can campaign. Fortunately most states in the US allow sexual surrogates to operate and work with disabled people legally.
THOSE RUNNING THE PLACE DON’T WANT SEXUAL SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED THERE
At the next meeting, invite a sex worker / surrogate who specialises in seeing disabled clients to come to the meeting you so your governors can learn what wonderful people they are.
YOU DON’T HAVE THE CONFIDENCE TO DO THIS WORK EVEN THOUGH YOU WANT TO
You don’t need specialist knowledge – you just need to ask your client what they want, and listen to what they say, taking them seriously (but humour and mutual laughter always lessens embarassment). Then discuss how they might move forward. If you don’t know the answer, say so but that you will find out, perhaps with your client. They may want a partner, or to learn more about what their body is able to enjoy (which can be taught by hiring a sexual service) , they want to learn how to experience orgasm. If the latter, ask them what they have already tried, and then maybe suggest a vibrator, stimulating all their erogenous zones or getting the support, perhaps from a Tantric practitioner (see Sexual Services). If you are really stuck contact me as I run the Sex and Disability Helpline and you can find my details on http://www.outsiders.org.uk/outsidersclub/contact.
THE PARENTS OF MY LEARNING DISABLED STUDENTS DON’T WANT THEM TAUGHT ABOUT SEX
Tell them that teaching them will make them safe from predictors and disease. They will change their minds!
A BRAIN INJURED RESIDENT IN OUR HOME WANTS TO JUMP ON ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE OPPOSITE GENDER (OR SAME GENDER IF GAY
Find them a horny partner, maybe asking all the homes nearby, until you find one, and organise for them to preferably live in the same residence, or at least spend private time together, having made sure she won’t get pregnant and they have a large enough bed. Fingers crossed it works out and lasts.
MANY OF OUR RESIDENTS WANT PARTNERS BUT NEED SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Perhaps look on disability dating websites with them and support them to put their profiles up. As well, you might organise a gathering / party, maybe inviting people from neighbouring residences. Collect friends or members of staff to help you organise it and introduce them to each other. You may also like to read some guidelines ‘How to run a local group’ on the Outsiders website http://www.outsiders.org.uk/outsidersclub/runninggroup/
A DISABLED PERSON IN OUR SCHOOL NEEDS HELP WITH MASTURBATION BUT THEY ARE ONLY 15 YEARS OLD
Helping a 15 year old physically would be illegal in most countries and definitely in the UK. You cannot therefore physically help them or buy them a sex toy, but what you can do is to verbally advise them on how to find a sex toy and how to manage on their own, using fantasy, swiving into the bedclothes, and learning the breath orgasm – see www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEznv88LfbY
I NEED TO LEARN MORE
My book ‘Supporting Disabled People with their Sexual Lives ‘was published by Jessica Kingsley in 2015 for people like you to learn. Bur remember, you don’t need a load of knowldge to do this work.
I DON’T HAVE TIME
Most of my helpline calls take less than 5 minutes. Tell them how much time you have and see if they are happy at the end. If not, try to arrange more time when you will be free.
I FEEL REALY ISOLATED DOING THIS WORK
Tell the other staff and I am sure someone will step forward to be your ally. Suggest to me a group title which would suit your work and we can start a Group on this website where you can discuss issues etc. Tuppyo@gmail.com.