Home Page > Article > The Importance of Teaching Students with Intellectual Disabilities about Dating, Love, and Sex

Our culture sends out some seriously confusing messages about sex. I teach a social skills class to college-aged students with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Today’s society has taught our students that love is Disney magic with a fairy tail ending. Watch any chick flick and you can see the unrealistic expectations that our students perceive as real life; “Relationships are easy,” “my one true love is out there,” “love at first sight,” and “everyone lives happily ever after.” Just as my cleaning paste is a wonderful product when used correctly, so dating, love, and even sex are wonderfully created social experiences when experienced in a healthy way.

The goal is to teach students the healthy way to go about dating, loving and even having sex with another individual, and to show them the warning labels of misusing sex. Having hormones, desires, and awkward experiences is a part of the way our bodies were created. Students need guidance in developing self-awareness of their own bodies and knowing how to develop and maintain healthy relationships with people around them. To do this, students need to understand how to:
 Set and maintain clear boundaries  Develop self-control  Discern positive and negative consequences  Develop positive self-respect

Students are learning about sex whether parents talk to them about it or not. They may have a very effective and engaging teacher that has been telling them what dating, love, and sex is all about. Social media, pornography websites, and television shows also have a say in what our students perceive as a normal, healthy relationship in regards to dating, love and sex. This is a topic that needs to be addressed, not ignored.

Historically, parents and teachers have been less likely to speak about sex with students who have a disability. Lack of knowledge about sexual issues causes more harm than good.

Warning! Lack of understanding with sexual issues can result in:
Unhealthy and dangerous sexual habits 
Sexual abuse 
Sexual addictions 
Being the victim or offender of sexual harassment at work 
Displaying private behaviors in public 
Loss of trust/broken relationships

With this in mind, let’s get over any uneasiness we might have personally about discussing this subject, and help our students develop a healthy understanding of dating, love and sex, which will in turn lead them to happy and healthy relationships. Author: By Sarah Kolkman, Instructor

Susie Bean Gives Team