How is Sexual Health Counseling Different for Those With Limitations?
Finding new ways to express love or to give and experience pleasure is a journey that can't always be undertaken alone. Sex educators help clients learn to find and set boundaries, to explore safely, and to engage in frank and open discussion with partners. For some, this may begin with something as basic as defining what sex is for a particular person. Surprisingly, the answer doesn't always involve penetration, procreation or even orgasms.
Most of the basic concepts of Wilson-Beattie's work are extensions of what most people learned as general, healthy sexuality. Understanding your own body, consent and asking your partner questions rather than making presumptions are all good ideas for everyone, but they are particularly vital for those with disabilities. A patient might be into masochistic play, for example, but may also deal with chronic pain. That would change the typical dynamic of this sort of play, but is an easy fix with open discussion between partners.
What Is the Most Powerful Sex Organ?
Another familiar concept that sex educators use is that the most powerful sex organ is the brain. Our attitude, focus, confidence and awareness are all at least as important to a healthy sex life as the rest of our bodies. Again, this well-known wisdom that anyone can apply is even more essential to the sexual health of anyone devising new ways to overcome a physical limitation.
Access is another vital issue when living with a disability. Wilson-Beattie tells me that "most issues people with disabilities talk about are linked to access." Representation and inclusion are also enormous issues as well - perhaps too enormous to go into at length here. Suffice it to say that while there's a long way to go, intersectional sex educators have opened up new sexy avenues for patients. Still, there are many doctors who don't even bring up sex with their patients even when it seems obvious that there could be an issue.
Getting the Word Out
Another exciting part of what Wilson-Beattie does in her work involves lecturing on disability-inclusive sex education and disability awareness for medical and social work professionals. We already know that there are no national standards for sex education in the United States. We hope getting the word out about the need for it will change the conversation in the coming years.
Within the last 10 years, sex advocacy groups and projects like SexAbled have emerged to help people of all stripes explore safe, healthy sex lives that push all the right buttons. If you're near a big city, a friendly group of like-minded individuals might be closer than you think.
If you are looking for input or support dealing with a physical limitation, Wilson-Beattie suggests reaching out to local groups in your area. These can be found on the internet, or via referral from a doctor or counselor. Choose a group or provider where you feel comfortable, listened to, and respected. Remember, talking about personal or intimate details is part of the program. Feeling nervous about attending a meetup or new friendly space? Bring a friend or two with you - then you'll have someone to giggle with if it gets boring.