- Easterseals | Love, Dating, Relationships and Disability
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- Love, Dating, Relationships and Disability
Plus, she gives advice for parents and caregivers. Check out what Mary has to say and then submit your own questions to her by clicking here.
Tell us about your experience, the type of work you do and the people you work with. I work primarily with adults with learning and developmental disabilities. They could have multiple disabilities, but their primary diagnosis would almost certainly be an intellectual disability, IQ 70 or below. Most of the adults that I work with are verbal. Get out and be social! You need to meet a lot of people. I also talk a lot about where are good places to meet people. There are places where it can be kind of dangerous.
One place that I know a lot of people look to is their place of employment. We generally try to steer people away from the work setting and into more social activities. What kinds of safety rules should people keep in mind if they look for a partner on the Internet? And what should you remember if you meet someone in person who you found on the Internet? Get to know the person first before meeting them. I also think it can be a good idea to have them meet somebody you know, like a family member or a good friend, so that the people you know can see who they are, what they look like, etc.
Judgment is a big issue. How can you tell if a person is a good person for you or not? You go out on the date and see if there are things you like about each other. Is it a fun experience? On the flip side, if you ask someone out, they also have the right to say no.
I think everybody struggles with that one. If they go over and start talking, they may not be the greatest at conversation, but they stay there and want to continue being near each other. That usually says, gee, I like you. When you get to that step of hanging out or maybe actually having a date, what do you need to do to prepare? You need to think it through. Where do I want to go?
Easterseals | Love, Dating, Relationships and Disability
How am I going to get there? When am I going to go? How dressy is it going to be? Like what can I talk about? Or make sure that you actually do some talking if you happen to be a really quiet person. Are there any topics that you should remember to stay away from? Sex, probably on the first date. That might scare them off a lot. You want to get to know them.
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You want to know what they like. To prevent abuse, people with learning disabilities should have access to sex and relationships education, and caregivers should be prepared to discuss issues on sex and relationships openly in a proactive, rather than reactive, way. This would equip people with the knowledge they need to enjoy relationships in a safe way. Not being open or only dealing with issues in a reactive way is more likely to leave people vulnerable to abuse.
Professionals and caregivers also inappropriately apply the Mental Capacity Act to some people with learning disabilities, especially those with severe learning disabilities. The act states that the capacity to consent to sexual relationships must be assumed unless proven otherwise and an unwise decision does not necessarily imply a lack of capacity. Research that reviewed cases on the capacity to consent to sexual activity highlighted failures in the implementation of the act and suggested a reframed capacity assessment informed by research into sexual decision making.
Special dating agencies can enable people with learning disabilities to find relationships and broaden their social networks. The decade has seen a growth of friendship and dating groups for people with learning disabilities, including HeartVenture , Luv2meetU and matesndates.
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They match people interested in forming relationships and support them on their first date. Stars in the Sky, one of the first to be set up, by two women with learning disabilities, is now unfortunately closing due to financial constraints. It also featured in The Undateables, and it is clearly evident from the series that support can enable people with learning disabilities to form relationships. And success is not only measured by a successful date but by the confidence that individuals gain by going on a date, too.
I was struggling to find anyone on my own.
And I want, I guess what every girl, woman would like to have partner or companion to share things with. I hate being on my own and being miserable. Relationships have a positive impact on mental health and the well-being of people in general. This also goes for people with learning disabilities, and for it to happen their sexuality must be acknowledged. They need support to allow them the opportunity to form and develop relationships, and they should be empowered with the tools they need to consent to sexual relationships.
Hopefully, if we get these things right, people with learning disabilities will be able to enjoy forming relationships in a safe environment, and fulfil their need to love and be loved.
Love, Dating, Relationships and Disability
Back from the future, forward from the past: The journey that is lifelong learning — Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Back from the future forward from the past: The journey that is lifelong — Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
The evolution of the meaning of open education — Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. In Conversation — Manchester, Manchester. Available editions United Kingdom. Chido Ndadzungira , The Open University. Love by Shutterstock My research explores the views and experiences of women with learning disabilities on sexual relationships and as part of my PhD I gave them a platform to talk openly about this taboo subject.
As Monica told me: When Barbara was asked why she had joined up, she said: As Georgia, one participant in a study , said: Protection from abuse People with learning disabilities — both men and women — are vulnerable to sexual abuse and need protection from this. Monica, for example, said: