Back to tips

Sexuality and intellectual disability

Drawing of a man brooming inside an head

Are you curious about a sex education program for your child or loved one?

As a caregiver of a person with a mild to moderate intellectual disability, you probably have questions about the topic of sexuality.

default image

The Role of Sex Education

Sex education allows a person with an Intellectual Disability to increase certain social skills through relational experiences, to improve their ability to make decisions related to their sexuality, and to acquire knowledge of their body, an understanding of their needs and desires, and self-awareness.

On the other hand, the lack of information can lead to anxiety if the phenomena of erection, ejaculation and menstruation have not been clearly explained. This can also lead to the introduction of sexuality through pornographic films, which can distort the image of sexual relationships and sometimes lead to inappropriate sexual behaviour or attitudes.

ic_play Play Video

Sex education programs

Generally, the following topics are discussed:

  • development of self-awareness, self-esteem and assertiveness, and recognition of emotions;
  • sexual and social identity;
  • personal hygiene, anatomy, reproduction;
  • social and socio-sexual skills development: private-public, modesty, intimacy circles, relationship stages;
  • consent, friendships and romantic relationships;
  • sexual relationships (equality, norms, safe environment), sexual orientations, masturbation and sexual satisfaction;
  • contraception, prevention of STDs, prevention of sexual assault, and sexual cyber-prevention.

Questions and possible solutions

What is the connection between quality of life and sexuality?

Living in an environment where everyone is respected and valued contributes to the development of self-esteem and promotes learning in social and gender skills.

Participating in fulfilling activities increases feelings of personal satisfaction and facilitates social inclusion and participation.

Participating in leisure, sports or cultural activities leads to enjoyment, self-actualization through skills development, and emotional connections with others.

Social investment and a sense of belonging have beneficial effects on the prevention of inappropriate sexual behaviour. Belonging to a group of acquaintances or friends helps people get to know each other and learn to respect others.

Do people with intellectual disabilities have a distinctive sexuality?

Although the sexual experience of people with an intellectual disability is influenced by intellectual limitations in terms of understanding information, events, and decision-making, the sexuality of people with intellectual disabilities is very similar to that of people without disabilities.

What about love?

Emotions, love, and tenderness are all topics that can be discussed with your child or loved one and can open the door to the discussion of sexuality.

You can help yourself to the books presented in the table below.

How can you strengthen your role as an educator?

It is important for you to have the knowledge and skills on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to be comfortable and confident in addressing this topic with your child. Your challenge is to be aware of and access the various resources that are available. The table below presents a variety of practical tools.

What can you do to manage your emotions and the challenges of being a caregiver?

Discover tips on how to manage guilt or accept help for your child with an intellectual disability. Find advice on how to deal with your emotions, what it means to be a caregiver and how to navigate the administrative process.

format_list_bulleted See all tips

Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784