Practice Issues in Sexuality and Learning Disabilities

By Ann Craft | Go to book overview

3

Understanding and responding to difficult sexual behaviour
Hilary Brown and Sheila Barrett
INTRODUCTION
Sexual behaviour is a significant cause of the admission and readmission of people with learning disabilities to hospital (see Campbell et al. 1982). In order to fulfil the commitment to provide an ordinary life to all people with learning disabilities it is essential that we work towards some understanding of its roots and begin to acquire the expertise to intervene and to manage difficult sexual behaviour in community settings. In this chapter we want to explore how sexual behaviour is learned, how difficult sexual behaviour develops and to suggest a coherent model of intervention in terms of management and treatment, thereby outlining the competencies which services need to develop. The chapter shows how staff groups can work proactively with the small minority of people with learning disabilities whose sexual behaviour has damaging consequences for them or impinges unacceptably on others. It also highlights the responsibility of managers to support staff with appropriate supervision, structures and resources. This requires an overview of:
—the issues relating to sexuality and people with learning disabilities
—current practice in responding to challenging behaviour
—the generic literature on sexual development and pathology.

For a literature review specifically on sexual offenders with learning disabilities see Breen and Turk (in preparation).

Whereas staff feel clear in the face of self-injury or aggression to others. intervening to redirect or reshape an individual's sexual behaviour raises many difficult issues and dilemmas. For example, how would a member of staff weigh up the possibility of replacing sexual behaviour which has been directed at women colleagues with pornographic magazines or videos? How should members of staff

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