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. 

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