Not being open or only dealing with issues in a reactive way is more likely to leave people vulnerable to abuse. Unfortunately for many people with learning disabilities, this is just a dream. Lonely by Shutterstock Stars in the Sky, one of the first to be set up, by two women with learning disabilities, is now unfortunately closing due to financial constraints. When Barbara was asked why she had joined up, she said: We all have deficiencies in one area or another. For those things that do change how they can live in a significant way, check out my post on marrying someone who is disabled. At first, I helped the members put on shows. That episode showed me phoning Luke, a member of the dating project I run, to suggest a date with Alice, also a member.
Watching our couples on TV made me feel so good. Love by Shutterstock My research explores the views and experiences of women with learning disabilities on sexual relationships and as part of my PhD I gave them a platform to talk openly about this taboo subject. They have exactly the same rights as everyone else. And when they later swapped numbers and kissed goodbye, I beamed with pride. For those things that do change how they can live in a significant way, check out my post on marrying someone who is disabled. But there should be a balance between protecting people from abuse and enabling them to get into relationships, otherwise people are denied their right to do so. It was a new experience for them, and they were very nervous. They need support to allow them the opportunity to form and develop relationships, and they should be empowered with the tools they need to consent to sexual relationships. We listen to a lot of audiobooks together, and can use screen readers to read websites, etc. As a matchmaker for people with learning disabilities, I regularly help would-be boyfriends and girlfriends, like Luke and Alice, find love. Part of my role is chaperoning couples on dates, so they feel as supported as possible. They match people interested in forming relationships and support them on their first date. I try to manage expectations right from the beginning. So if the disability is mild, then it has more to do with whether interests and passions are aligned than with the disability itself. A right to love Last year Channel 4 contacted me, asking if they could film our work for The Undateables. This puts them at risk and leaves them vulnerable when out in public places. This also goes for people with learning disabilities, and for it to happen their sexuality must be acknowledged. And Luke and Alice, who hit it off at the ice cream parlour, dated for a while, but have since gone their separate ways. And success is not only measured by a successful date but by the confidence that individuals gain by going on a date, too. I had butterflies too — it was like watching my own children! These women wanted to be in a relationship. We still enjoy lively debates and intellectual discussions. I have a severe learning disability related to how my eyes work with each other and with my brain. And I want, I guess what every girl, woman would like to have partner or companion to share things with. As Monica told me: Initially I was unable to learn to read, but with the right glasses and years of vision therapy, I now read quite fast and with good comprehension. Protection from abuse People with learning disabilities — both men and women — are vulnerable to sexual abuse and need protection from this.
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