‘I Count Myself as Normal, Well, not Normal, but Normal Enough’ Men with Learning Disabilities Tell their Stories about Sexuality and Sexual Identity

Paul Wheeler (Unit for Development in Intellectual Disabilities, University of Glamorgan)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Publication date: 1 January 2007

Abstract

Discussion of sexuality and its expression is commonplace. Looking in a newspaper or turning on the television provides evidence of this. It is also a topic of discussion among academics from various backgrounds. However, in relation to people with learning disabilities, such discussion is often framed in negative terms and is concerned with such things as abuse, HIV and STIs, ‘unwanted’ pregnancy and challenging sexual behaviour. There is little published research into the question of how men and women with learning disabilities experience their sexuality or sexual identity. This study sought to explore how a group of men with learning disabilities in South Wales experienced their sexuality and sexual identity, using an interpretative phenomenological analysis. It found that, although the participants saw themselves as sexual beings, their opportunities for expressing their sexuality were often limited and controlled by others. It also found that the participants saw themselves more in terms of their ‘differences’ from other men than of their similarities. Recommendations for changes in practice and policy that may facilitate the appropriate expression of sexuality by men with learning disabilities are made.

Citation

Wheeler, P. (2007), "‘I Count Myself as Normal, Well, not Normal, but Normal Enough’ Men with Learning Disabilities Tell their Stories about Sexuality and Sexual Identity", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 16-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/13595474200700003

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Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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