Sexuality of people with intellectual disability: Parents perspectives   Inbal Dvori Levy, Supervised by: Prof. Einat Peled. Tel Aviv University, 2015    

This work was supported by a grant from Shalem Fund.

Literature Review- Sexuality of people with disabilities is often characterized in terms of absence; or perceived as aggressive and revolting. In addition the public discourse regards people with disabilities as highly prone to sexual abuse. The few studies that contemplate on parents' of people with intellectual disability point of view uncover the parents' ambivalence towards their offspring's sexuality. On the one hand, parents wish to protect their offspring, whom are perceived by them as sexually vulnerable. On the other, they want to enable them a satisfying sexual life; though surrounded by a silencing and excluding socio-cultural environment.
Research Method- this study was conducted in a qualitative-naturalistic approach, and included 12 semi structured in-depth interviews with parents of people with intellectual disability.
Findings—Parents presented ample problems in discussing their offspring's sexuality. It was manifested in recruiting interviewees; and in the difficulties of the parents who participated to discuss their children's sexuality. Nonetheless, they revealed countless relevant stories concerning their offspring's sexuality. The Parents' perceptions and their involvement in their offspring's sexuality were brimming with dilemmas and tensions which remain unsolved. The parents related to their offspring's sexuality as abnormal and problematic. They ignored it, prevented it and restrained its manifestation due to the prominent discourse of sexual assault. However, the parents also recognized their offspring's sexuality and their right to express it, and strove to enable and expand their offspring's expressions of sexuality. These perceptions were embodied in an environment that often oppresses expressions of sexuality of people with intellectual disabilities; and is dearth of social opportunities and professional support to people with intellectual disability and their parents.
Discussion- Two prominent issues that emerged from the findings were examined: the interviews with the parents as a dimension of potential threats on one hand, and a relief on the other, and the dimension of the physical contact between the parents and children, which ranges between expressions of love and care, and forbidden sexual contact.

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 A short video describing the study

Editing : Shay Shlomi, 2016