Sexuality of adults with intellectual disabilities as described by support staff workers
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Historically, people with intellectual disabilities have been labeled as asexual or as perpetrators or victims of sexual abuse (McDaniels, Fleming, 2016). They often face discrimination because of their sexuality, regardless of whether they live within residential facilities or family homes (Wingles-Yanez, 2014). This paper presents research results from qualitative studies of the sexuality of adults with intellectual disabilities. Applying a phenomenographic method (Paulston, 1993), the authors conducted 16 interviews with professionals at several daycare and residential centres in north-eastern Poland who work with intellectually disabled people. The specific research aims were to answer the following questions: (1) How do support staff workers perceive sexuality and intimate relationships of adults with intellectual disabilities? (2) Which factors contribute to the sexuality and intimate relationships of adults with intellectual disabilities according to support staff workers? (3) What kinds of support related to sexuality and intimate relationships do support staff workers think is essential for people with intellectual disabilities? The authors focus on presenting the professionals’ perceptions of sexuality and intimate relationships of adults with intellectual disabilities and to depict the discourse those workers use. Implications for practice are also discussed, especially the need to provide sexuality support to adults with intellectual disabilities, their therapists and parents.
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