Developing romantic and sexual relationships: Exploring the lived experiences of people with complex communication needs

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Date
2018-11-5
Authors
Sellwood, Darryl
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Flinders University
Rights
Copyright © 2018 the author. All rights reserved.
Rights Holder
The author
Abstract
This research investigates the lived experiences of people with complex communication needs (CCN) in developing romantic and sexual relationships. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (2013) asserts people with disabilities have the right to participate in social relationships equal to others and acknowledges the additional barriers they face in social relationships. This research asked: What are the lived experiences of people with complex communication needs in developing romantic or sexual relationships? What are the barriers and facilitators to developing romantic or sexual relationships for people with complex communication needs? Method: This research deliberately sought lived experiences and perspectives in an area that is seldom discussed openly. It used a Critical Hermeneutics phenomenological approach and Standpoint Theory to provide a deeper understanding of experiences. The inclusion criteria were, participants had to be 21 or older, have had a physical and communication disability since childhood, and use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Results: Nine participants with CCN, aged from 21 to 70+, were interviewed. Twenty-one experiences were discussed. Three themes emerged from the analysis of these experiences: personal attributes, the traits people discussed as being influential in their relationships; intimate communication, the communication issues surrounding being intimate and engaging in sexual activity; and the power of others, the influences of the attitudes of others on relationships. Ableism was the predominant attitudinal barrier. Conclusion: The research suggests that people with CCN can successfully develop romantic and sexual relationships. However, ableist attitudes of others can have a significant impact on their relationships. The findings will offer new insights into the lives of adults with CCN.
Description
This abstract was prepared for the inaugural 'HDR Student Conference', Flinders University, November 2018. Copyright © the author
Keywords
Sexuality, Intimacy, Communication disability, Physical disability, Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Citation
Sellwood, Darryl (2018, November) Developing romantic and sexual relationships: Exploring the lived experiences of people with complex communication needs Paper presented at 'HDR Student conference', Flinders University, Bedford Park.