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Educators' ambivalence and managing anxiety in providing sex education for people with learning disabilities
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 13:27 authored by Poul Rohleder
Little is known about how HIV/AIDS affects people with disabilities, although international literature suggests that people with learning disabilities and other disabilities may be at increased vulnerability to HIV infection. One factor that increases vulnerability to HIV is the lack of sex education and resulting knowledge about safe sex. People with learning disabilities have historically been excluded from sex education as they have often been perceived as being either asexual or over-sexed, and this sex education is either irrelevant or potentially dangerous. For those that work with people with learning disabilities, they may have to work with notions of damage, vulnerability and dependency, which may be disavowed aspects of the self which are projected on to people with disabilities. The work is made more difficult by the anxieties that issues of sex and sexuality raise. This article reports on a study exploring the experiences of educators providing sex education for people with learning disabilities in South Africa. The interview narratives were subject to a psychosocial analysis, drawing on a psychoanalytic framework to explore possible unconscious emotional aspects of participants' work. The analysis reveals ambivalent feelings about providing sex education for people with disabilities, where on the one hand the need for sex education is recognised, but there is some anxiety about the potential to cause harm or that providing sex education will lead to inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Publication titlePsychodynamic Practice
PublisherTaylor & Francis