A Tragic Omission in the Support of People with Disabilities

The Me Too Movement has heightened our awareness of sexual abuse and exploitation in all its forms. Thanks to the work of NPR’s Joe Shapiro and others, a light has been shed on the tragically high rates of sexual assault of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).  In her article in Nevada Today, Nichole Shearer highlights the doctoral research work of Anna Treacy of the University of Nevada.  In addition to the obvious vulnerabilities created by physical and intellectual differences, Treacy and her colleagues identify deficits in educational and resource allocation that also contribute to the increased risk of sexual assault in this vulnerable population of people.

Shearer summarizes the barriers uncovered by Treacy’s group as follows:

1.  The sexuality of individuals with a disability is viewed as deviant vs. natural;
2. Lack of teacher education programs;
3. Lack of teacher knowledge and confidence in teaching sexual health education resulting in concern, anxiety and fear;
4. Parental anxiety and fear;
5. The need for school, teacher and parent partnerships;
6. The lack of valid and reliable sexual health education for individuals with disabilities;
7. The lack of federal funding specifically designed for students with disabilities based on comprehensive sexual health education.

The Oklahoma Learning Community for Person Centered Practices (OLCPCP) wants to start the conversation about sexual health for Oklahomans with intellectual and developmental disabilities by hosting the inaugural Oklahoma Gathering for Person Centered Practices.  The theme for the gathering is Sexuality: Important TO and Important FOR EVERYONE! The gathering agenda is packed with interesting topics including:

  • Sexuality is a Natural Part of the Human Experience
  • Opportunity vs. Choice— It Might not be What You Think
  • Self Advocates Talk about Sex
  • Safety in Cyberspace
  • Marriage and SSI
  • Navigating  a Public Support System with a Life Partner

To be a part of this conversation, join April 18th-19th for the Oklahoma Gathering for Person Centered Practices at the Aloft Hotel in downtown Tulsa.  Find registration information here.


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