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Factors That Impact Support Workers’ Perceptions of the Sexuality of Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A Quantitative Analysis

Abstract

Adults with developmental disabilities (DDs) are often discouraged from expressing their sexuality and from learning about their sexual rights. As a consequence, they experience high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and sexual abuse, as well as negative attitudes toward their own sexuality. Support workers’ attitudes towards such issues are critical since individuals with DDs rely on support workers for information about sex. The following study involved the distribution of a self-administered sexuality questionnaire to university students with support worker experience. The results from the study indicate that support workers with no religious affiliation and those who are more advanced in their educational careers are more likely to have liberal attitudes towards the sexuality of adults with DDs. Analyses also indicated that while support workers were not biased against homosexuality among individuals with DDs, they considered anal sex to be the least acceptable form of sexual expression for this population. Implications of these findings are explored in terms of support worker training and education.

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Saxe, A., Flanagan, T. Factors That Impact Support Workers’ Perceptions of the Sexuality of Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A Quantitative Analysis. Sex Disabil 32, 45–63 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-013-9314-8

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Keywords

  • Developmental disability
  • Sexuality
  • Support worker
  • Attitudes towards sexuality
  • Canada