Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sex Addiction Plagues People With Special Needs

I have had the privilege of working with many individuals with disabilities over the last fifteen years.  As shocking as it has been for me to learn about the epidemic of sexual deviance in the neurotypically average population, I have uncovered an even more alarming discovery that people with developmental disabilities struggle hard with sex addiction.

As a society, we tend to ignore the fact that people with disabilities have sexual urges just like the rest of us.  As much as we ignore sex eduction with our children, we do so even more with children with special needs.  They grow up recognizing that they are sexual beings, but they don't realize how to express themselves as such.  Whereas marriage and subsequent procreation are the social norms for fulfilling our sexual desires as Christians in general, people with developmental disabilities are discouraged from marrying and having children.  In fact, we tend to totally avoid recognizing or discussing with them how to manage their sexuality.

People with mild intellectual disabilities (which comprises the largest group of people with intellectual disabilities) usually recognize that overtly acting out sexually is morally wrong and will bring more negative attention to themselves than they already receive from a society who stigmatizes them.  However, if they are not receiving the proper education or support for their sexuality, these desires go underground.  And, as it has been said, "we are only as sick as our secrets."

Many teens and adults with developmental challenges are caught in the nasty web of pornography, paraphilias and serious sexual addictions.  There is also a conundrum as to how to discipline someone who is intellectually impaired if they are prosecuted for sex crimes.  We tend to either impose harsh consequences for someone who doesn't fully grasp sexual rules or we keep them from receiving necessary consequences for their actions that results in further deviance.

Just as we would with any other child, we need to educate children with special needs about their sexuality on a developmentally-appropriate level.  This will depend on the learning style and the receptive skills of that individual. Fostering independence in this population is about more than just guiding them as we see fit.  It is about providing all of the necessary education about the choices they can make, and helping them arrive at the best decision for themselves.  Every person's life has value, and persons with disabilities deserve the same guidance we would offer to the rest of our nation's kids. 

What Would Jesus Do Isn't Just A Catch Phrase

Because I tend to be an anxious person by nature and ruminate over everything, I find the act of forgiving others very challenging.  In my perfectionistic manner, I tend to set very high expectations not only for myself but also for everyone else.  When someone sins against me, I find myself holding resentments and am let down.

What I have been working on is the fact that no one is perfect.  Just as Christ meets me where I am today, so too must I try to engage with others where they are at in their walk with God.  I take things far too personally always.  If you think about it, when someone hurts you, it's not really you they have the problem with; it's God.

I am coming to realize that much of my anxiety comes from being held captive by what others think.  What I need to focus most on is what God thinks.  As long as I am respecting myself and interacting with others in the way He sees fit, then I can rest and have joy that He will protect me from all harm.

Every person has a reason for their life, and God has love for every person even if He favors those who walk closer to Him.  It follows, then, that we can look to Christ as our example for how to interact with those who offend us.

Jesus showed mercy and grace to all mankind by dying for our sins.  We must forgive everyone in the same manner that Christ sacrificed Himself for us.  For those who do not display a willing heart, all I think we can do is demonstrate Christ to them as best we can and keep ourselves at a safe distance.  But, for those who have a heart that yearns for God, we should support them, teach them, and forgive them so that we can fully understand and allow them to experience the love of Christ.

Perfect love is not easy, but it is beautiful and fulfilling and deep.  It is life-sustaining.  We are the hands and the feet of our Lord.  It is a challenging job, but it is one that I am trying to take more and more comfort in every day.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fast Women and Slow Men

The things I hear and see in our society today make me cringe when I think about my growing boy.  My biggest goal as a Mom is to prevent him from becoming a cast member of the Lord of the Flies.  I look at the behavior of grown men and think "they really don't have a clue about how to function in society."  We have trained our men to be so self-focused and so aggressive that it is only through their own idea of what would be devastating consequences to them do they stop to evaluate their personal behavior.

I've been watching the Women's Fast-pitch World Series over the last week, watching my husband's ever-surprised and amazed facial expressions.  Yes, women can be aggressive, and yes women can be extremely competitive.  There are many women who love to play sports, and they play sports well.  So many men are conditioned to focus on themselves, to do whatever it takes to get to the top, to win, to mark their territory and to behave in whatever way that makes them feel good about themselves.  This totally leaves out empathy and understanding of the opposite sex, the other half they are expected to become one with in marriage.  As a culture, we are setting men up to fail...big time.

I don't think most men are oblivious to who women are as individuals out of meanness, but more out of just ignorance that they are as special or important as the man himself is.  Society has trained us this way.  Society tells us that women play support roles at best, not that they can be the main character.

When a man is asked who most women's heroines are, they may be surprised that Kim Kardashian isn't nearly as high on our list as it is on theirs.  There are so many serious female athletes out there, and yet the bleachers are as empty as the player's pocket books.  It is so sad to me that very often the only time women are noticed at all is when they are taking off their clothes.  Women are great athletes, they are geniuses, they have biological urges and bodily functions they must perform.  They have big dreams of success and they have sexual fantasies.  They put their pants on one leg at a time.

Guys, if you truly want to develop empathy and understanding of women, get to know them.  Talk to them.  Show interest; ask questions about who she is.  Learn that each woman is as unique as each man.  Show her you value her as much as you value yourself.  Support her in her goals and dreams.  Treat her with respect in front of her and behind her back.  Don't just pay lip service to respect; monitor the shows you watch, the magazines you buy, the sites you click on whether she's with you or not.  Learn about yourself.  Challenge thoughts about the opposite sex you may have once thought were perfectly fine.

Be the change.